Deb Bennett

Deb Bennett

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.


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How Leaning Affects Equine Anatomy

The lack of a collarbone influences the form and function of the hoof

There are many differences between the skeletons of horses and humans. One that needs to be clear in the minds of all farriers — and all riders and trainers, too — is the fact that humans have collarbones while horses lack them completely. The consequences of this difference impact every aspect of horsemanship, and that certainly includes the form and function of the equine hoof.

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How Straightness Affects the Equine Hoof

Crooked horses can lead to a multitude of hoof, movement and lameness problems
Articulation is one of those words that reverberates with multiple meanings. In this first installment of a series concerning straightness and its effects on the hoof, I intend to supply not only language by which you can articulate the relevant concepts but also to convey a multifaceted concept of all that “straightness” encompasses.
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The Critical Importance of the Horse’s Stifle and Hock in Movement

The hind limb reciprocating system coordinates motion and economizes the required effort

Probably the most famous anatomical demonstration that students of equine anatomy regularly see in the dissecting room — and certainly one of the most spectacular and interesting — is the coordinated opening and closing of the central joints of the hind limb, the “classic” hind limb reciprocation.

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Hock Provides the Horse Thrust Under Immense Strain

The peculiarly structured joint plays a critical role for performance and working horses
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.
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Equine Anatomy May Be Best Learned through Art

A farrier’s assessment of conformation may be improved by drawing the horse
“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.”
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Equine Reciprocating Systems

Hoof Trim has Varied Effects on the Equine Forelimb

Demonstrations and real-life examples challenge farriers to think about their approach to solving foot problems
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.
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Equine Reciprocating Systems: Do You Know the Nuts and Bolts of the “Orthopedic Trim?”

Farriers test their knowledge about how the forelimb functions
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.
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