Dr. Deb Bennett has studied classification, evolution, anatomy and biomechanics of the horse. She worked at the Smithsonian Institution, until founding the Equine Studies Institute. She is an author who has published four books on horse-related topics, in addition to articles in most major equine magazines in North America.
Weight-bearing upon flexed hocks puts enormous strain on all parts of the hock joint. Along with the equally complex stifle joint, the hock is crucial to the horse’s ability to flex and extend the hind limb and create the forward thrust that is the “impulsion” so often sought by horse owners who compete in the Olympic disciplines.
“The anatomist has to observe….to picture…the body not as a surface but as a [three-dimensional] space, in order to understand which he must in his imagination walk through the anatomical elements and perceive what lies behind them.”
Throughout this series, I have illustrated the concept of systems anatomy. Veterinary education and that of traditional farriers are based on regional anatomy, which studies regions and the anatomical components of each. The perspective of systems anatomy is that bodies are organized hierarchically, i.e. building up from small functional units (for example, cells or single tissues) to subsystems (for example, organs), which work together to make up a major system such as the nervous, circulatory or musculoskeletal system.
Over much of the past year, through this series I have presented the building blocks of information needed to understand the structure of the forelimb reciprocating apparatus in horses. Starting from collagen and elastin at the molecular level and working through all the various connective tissues structured by those two molecules, you have had the opportunity to learn equine anatomy and terminology as enrolled university zoology, pre-medicine or pre-veterinary majors would.
Writing this installment in our Equine Reciprocating Limb series, I could not help but hear the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” running through my head — especially the punch line: “The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles.” That very aptly sums up one of my main points: if anatomical parts aren’t connected, reciprocation does not happen.
Most, if not all, farriers are already familiar with the chain of bones that forms the equine forelimb: scapula, humerus, radius-ulna, carpal bones, cannon bones and splints, pastern bones and coffin bone. Added to this list are the three pseudo-bones called sesamoids, which lie behind the ankle and coffin joints.
The periosteum, thin but tough connective tissue that enwraps all true bones, was the focus of the third installment of this series, “Equine Reciprocating Systems: Connecting Tendon to Bone.” Knowledge of the periosteum creates a good starting point for learning the structure of joints.
A cross-section cut through the horse’s thorax reveals that the equine rib cage is far from being a round barrel. Instead, it is shaped like a peach leaf: pointed at the bottom, with rather flattened sides. Slapped up against the flattened surface formed by the rib cage is the scapula, and the junction so formed is the connection between the horse’s forelimb as a whole and its body.
The forelimb reciprocating apparatus of the horse is a unique and important biomechanical system that every farrier must understand before good decisions concerning hoof trim and appliances can be made. Detailed study of tissue types is the first step, but we also have to be careful of our choice of terminology.
In the first installment of this series on the anatomy and function of the forelimb reciprocating apparatus in horses (September/October 2019 American Farriers Journal), I discussed the many differences between white vs. yellow ligament tissue. In this installment, we focus on the relationships between muscles, the tendons of muscles, and yellow ligaments.
Campbell, Texas, farrier and American Farriers Team member Sawyer Spradling demonstrates his approach to tuning a distorted pritchel to a punch, a skill that has served him well when he travels to clinics and competitions.
Life Data Labs Inc. is a dedicated product manufacturer committed to producing premium quality animal nutrition and health products through continuous product improvement and new product development. First-class ingredients, fresh products, consistent high quality and scientifically proven effectiveness are the principal features of Life Data Labs animal health products. And that's why they've produced the #1 recommended hoof supplement by farriers for 12 consecutive years.
From the feed room to the tack room, SmartPak offers innovative solutions to help riders take great care of their horses. SmartPak was founded in 1999 with the introduction of the patented SmartPak™ supplement feeding system. The revolutionary, daily dose SmartPaks are custom-made for your horse, individually labeled and sealed for freshness.