Horse Specimen

What’s The Process For Converting A Cadaver Horse Into A Full Specimen?

There are many different ways to convert a horse cadaver into a specimen. My interest was ignited by my dad Doug Butler, who assembled different models and specimens. It helps to see these structures firsthand and illustrates the value of assembling a specimen.

He made a video about the bones, tendons and ligaments of the horse, which is available here. Walter Varcoe assembles skeletons by first composting the horse and does a fantastic job. His specimens are available here. Allie Hayes makes outstanding freeze-dried hoof and leg models, which are sold here.

For my use as instructional aides, I have found that boiling the bones works well. I have tried a lot of different ways and continue to experiment. I am still learning. As a result of trying different things and learning how others do it, I have more admiration for individuals who attempt this endeavor. Consider that this does take a lot of time, especially when doing a whole skeleton.

The first thing is removing as much skin, muscle, fat and meat as possible. I like to boil the bones in a big barrel of water. This allows all of the other structures to loosen and be easily removed. However, the amount of time the bones are boiled is crucial. The more that is left on the bone adds to the length of time the bones need to boil. If you do it too long you can ruin the bones.

Many factors must be considered, such…

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Jacob Butler CJF, AWCF

Jacob Butler is a certified journeyman farrier and an associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers. He is the Director and an instructor at Butler Professional Farrier School LLC, located near Chadron, Neb. For more information, visit his website, call (308) 665-1510 or email at

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