Recently, I browsed through the book Horse Anatomy, A Coloring Atlas by Robert A. Kainer and Thomas O. McCracken, and was immediately fascinated by the depth of detail and information offered. Throughout the book, they have a description of a part of the anatomy, and on the facing page, they have a well-drawn illustration that shows that part of the body’s muscles, bones, and/or tissue.
The Teeth -Do you know if your colt has wolf teeth, or how to tell a horse’s age by looking at his teeth? What is your vet looking for when he checks your horse’s mouth? What causes a horse to have trouble eating. The answers are on plates 48 and 49.
The Hoof – I have a mule that has foundered in the past, and was delighted to see a mention of founder on Plate 25, Growth and Nourishment of the Hoof. Here, the authors briefly describe what happens in the corium that causes the symptoms of founder. In short, over-eating in lush pastures or eating too much grain causes the circulation of endotoxins (poisons) and hard concussion on the foot may cause blood to be shunted away from the small arteries in the dermal laminae, which results in laminitis, or founder. The shunting of the blood from the dermal laminae first causes swelling and then death of tissue, which is possibly followed by loosening and downward rotation of the distal phalanx. With the description of what is occurring in her foot, as well as an excellent drawing on the facing page, I can better understand what is happening in her hoof.
The Muscles – Not too long ago, our neighbors moved and gave us their two horses. One is a very pretty little dun mare that seems to be well mannered and I’m looking forward to working with her. The other day I was in the pasture with her and was massaging down her back a bit, from her shoulders to her rump. All of my other equines have always enjoyed this, but when I looked at her face, she was not a happy camper. Her ears were pinned back and she wore a very disgusted look on her face. I went back to rubbing her on her withers area, and she turned her head into me and relaxed. Not a good sign if she’s that ouchy or sensitive down her back. I don’t have any history on her, and since the neighbors moved out of state, I have no one to talk to about her. They never rode her, and from what I understand they had rescued her or something along that line.
Out of curiosity, I thumbed through the book to see what it would show me about the horse’s back. Plate 16 covers the superficial muscles of the horse, and Plate 17 covers the deeper muscles of the horse. With this information, I can compare where she’s sore with the muscles that are in that area and work with her in that area. I will definitely make sure to take her to my vet and get her opinion, but at least now I will have a reference to work with and maybe even understand a bit of what she tells me.
Digestive System – If you understand how the horse’s complex digestive system works and how the intestines and colon are put together, you can see where colic occurs and why. Colic has many causes, but obstruction or impaction of the colon by feed or foreign bodies is one major cause. I learned that certain sections of the intestinal system are more prone to impaction.
Respiratory System – What happens when your horse has trouble breathing? Where is the problem and how can you recognize it? What organs could be involved?
Although by no means am I an equine professional, I do love and enjoy my equines, and look forward to reading more of this book to better understand the equine anatomy and how it functions. I can see where it can help me in caring for them, as well as being able to communicate with the veterinarian if there is ever a problem, or at least understand a little bit better of what he’s talking about.