Noble Life

Beginner Basics: Horse Anatomy Terms


Learning the proper terms for horse anatomy is helpful no matter if you are a beginner just starting or an expert rider.  You will hear these terms from veterinarians, trainers, saddle fitters, farriers, and more!  Brush up on your horse terms!

  1. The BACK is the are where a saddle (and you) sits.  It begins are the withers and extends to the loin.
  2. A horse’s BARREL is it’s body which includes the ribcage and internal organs.
  3. The CANNON can also be called the cannon bone.  It is the area between the knee or hock and the fetlock joint.
  4. CHESTNUTS (no, not the color) are a callosity on the inside of each leg.
  5. The CHIN GROOVE is a part of the horse’s head just behind the chin.  If a bit has a curb chain, this is where it will rest.
  6. The CORONET , also known as a coronary band, is a the ring of soft tissue where the hoof blends into the skin of the leg.
  7. A horse’s CREST is part of the horse’s neck where the mane grows.
  8. The area extending from the hip along the topline of the hindquarters to the top of the tail is called the CROUP.
  9. The DOCK is the very top or root of the tail.  It is the living part of a horse’s tail.
  10. The ELBOW is the joint on the front legs at the point where the leg meets the horse’s barrel.
  11. ERGOTS are a callosity on the back of the horse’s fetlocks.  Sometimes they are very prominent and other times they can be very small.
  12. The FETLOCK joint, also called the “ankle”, is the first joint on a horses’ leg above the hoof.
  13. A horse’s FLANK is the area where the hind legs meet the barrel, right behind the rib cage.
  14. The FOREARM on a horse is the area of the front legs between the knee and elbow joints.
  15. The FOREHEAD of a horse is the area below the horse’s ears and above their eyes.
  16. The large muscle on the hind leg above the hock and below the stifle is called the GASKIN.
  17. The HEEL is the back of the horses hoof or foot.
  18. The large joint on the hind leg between the gaskin and the cannon bone is called the HOCK.
  19. The HOOF is the hard foot of the horse that comes in contact with the ground.  It is the stronger, tougher version of a human fingernail!
  20. A horse’s KNEE is the large joint on the front legs above the cannon bone and below the forearm.
  21. The LOIN area is right behind where the saddle sits.  It extends from the last rib to the croup.
  22. The MUZZLE of a horse includes the chin, mouth, and nostrils on the horse’s face.
  23. The connection between the coronary band and the fetlock joint is called the PASTERN.
  24. The POINT OF HIP is the bony protrusion of the pelvis on either side of the horse’s body.
  25. A horse’s POLL is located at the beginning of the neck, immediately behind the ears.  This is usually where the crown piece of a bridle or halter rests.
  26. The SHOULDER of a horse runs from the withers to the point of the shoulder on a horse’s chest.  The angle of the shoulder has a great affect on his movement and athletic ability.
  27. The STIFLE functions similar to a human knee and is locate on the hind leg above the gaskin.
  28. A horse’s TAIL is the long, thick (if you are lucky) hairs growing down from the dock.
  29. The THROAT LATCH may also be referred to as the Throttle, Throat, or Throat lash.  It is the point at which the windpipe meets the head on the underside of the jaw.
  30. WITHERS on a horse are located just above the top of the shoulder, at the bottom of the mane.  A horse’s height is measured from the point.

The next time your vet says to take a closer look at your horse’s pastern you will know right where to look!  If your farrier is referring to the front left coronet, you will know where to find it.  Test yourself and your friends the next time you are out with your horses!

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The Author:

Alek Majtenyi’s love of horses began at a very young age with pony rides and reading endless horse stories. She started riding English at age 10 and joined The United States Pony Club at age 18 where she earned her C1 Level Rating. While earning her B.A. in English at the University of California, Davis, Alek worked at the UC Davis Equestrian Center giving beginning riding lessons to horse crazy girls and riding horses. She has worked closely with all ages and levels of riders in the last 10 years as the manager of The Tack Room, a small retail shop in Modesto, CA. She currently lives in Oakdale, CA with her German Shepherd Dog, Kyra, and lovely Thoroughbred mare, Miss Vesta.

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