Understanding the structure of the horse helps in the assessment of conformation, which in turn helps us to understand each horse's limitations. The skeleton comprises of about 210 bones: -

37 in the skull, including 3 small bones in each ear (auditory ossicles),

2 branches of mandible (lower jaw)

54 vertebrae (7 cervical, 18 thoracic, 6 lumbar, 5 sacral, 15 - 20 coccygeal),

36 ribs (some breeds i.e. Arab, sometimes have 37 or 38),

1 sternum,

40 forelimb

40 hindlimb (including pelvis)

Although it is easy to think of bone as hard and inflexible, this is not so. The skeleton has evolved to suit the horse's natural lifestyle and has the ideal amount of rigidity, flexibility and ability to move, rarely going wrong in the wild horse. However, the domesticated horse's skeleton often suffers from lack of exercise, which 'stiffens' and weakens it, or from the demands of excessive performance, which over-stresses and causes injury to it and it's associated structures, ligaments, tendons and muscles.

Hover your cursor over the skeleton below to see more information about some of the major bones in the horse.

Taken From New Rider

The Equine

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