Horse Muscles, Tendons And Ligaments
Equine Anatomy

Horse Muscles are the engine of your horse. Keeping them healthy is vital for a performance horse. Learn about equine anatomy with horse anatomy diagrams.

Muscles keep your equine moving, his heart beating and his lungs breathing.

They are often not given much thought and their importance is often overlooked. Keeping them loose and supple will ensure that they can work to their full potential.

But over-stressing muscles during exercise can lead to injuries and trauma. Tight and sore muscles or strains and sprains of tendons and ligaments are the result. The horse might be lame for months as these injuries are very slow to heal.



Always warm up your horse!

Any good athlete builds a warm-up and cool-down phase into their exercise session.

A performance horse is also an athlete!

Good training practices and a good warm up and cool down phase can prevent a lot of problems.

horse galloping

A warming up phase of minimum 10 minutes at a walk will ensure that the horse muscles are well supplied with blood. The circulatory is activated and more oxygen is supplied to the muscles to work efficiently.

Cooling down after a work-out with a few rounds of a relaxed trot with a long and low neck-position makes sure that the muscles relax and stay soft and supple.



A few facts...

Nerves stimulate the muscle to contract and move the bones they are attached to. If a muscle contracts, its antagonist has to stretch.

They allow for locomotion, balance and carry part of the bodyweight. They also support the function of organs like e.g. the lung.

A muscle is attached to bone through a tendon, which is part of the muscle. Tendons are less elastic and have less blood circulation.

Horse ligaments stabilize a joint and hold it together. They are not attached to a muscle.

In a horse there are no muscles below the knee or the hock, only tendons and ligaments.



Click on the horse anatomy diagrams to enlarge them!

horse muscles diagram


horse muscles diagram

Photos: adapted from Blood1976


How A Horse Muscle Works:

Muscles are responsible for movement or keeping the posture of the horse. The muscle is attached to the bone by a tendon.

The contracting muscle moves the bone around the joint. The tendon transfers the the energy to the bone. A muscle is quite elastic but the tendons are not.

Muscles are able to change in size, they can become bigger, smaller, longer or shorter depending on the level of training. They are able to adapt and regenerate quickly from injury.



Anatomy Of A Skeletal Muscle

horse muscle skeletal
  • 1. Bone
  • 2. Connective tissue
  • 3. Blood vessel
  • 4. Muscle fiber
  • 5. bundle of muscle fibers
  • 6. Connective tissue (sheath)
  • 7. Muscle body
  • 8. Tendon

Photo: Jeremykemp



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Anja Koch, DAEP
Applied Equine Podiatry
Caherciveen, Co. Kerry, Ireland
087-280 98 66