Horse Anatomy

A Visual Guide to Understanding Horse Anatomy

Horse Body Systems Overlay

Drag the slider to see horse muscular, skeletal, & digestive systems.

Horse Skeletal System Vector Illustration

A Horse's Skeleton

The horse's skeleton gives the body it's form and provides the structure and support for the muscles that allow the horse to move. The skeleton also provides protection for the horse's internal organs.

Compare Anatomy

Horse & Human Bone Structures





Metatarsal Bones



Pedal/Coffin Bone

Short Pastern Bone

Long Pastern bone

Hind Cannon Bone


Tibia & Fibula


Patella (knee cap)


Metacarpal Bones


Front Cannon Bone


Radius & Ulna






Human Skeleton

Human Skeleton

Horse Skeleton

Horse Skeleton Color Coded

Learning Activity Downloads

Crafts, Games, & Coloring Pages That Teach about Horses & Horsemanship

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Compare Horse & Human Limbs & Digits

Compare the Bone structures on a horse and human front and hind limbs.

horse human compare skeletal structure front limbs
horse human compare skeletal structure hind limbs

Equine Evolution

Notice how horses have evolved to walk on one toe.

equine evolutionH. Zell (User:Llez), CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

A Horse’s Digestive System

A horse’s gut is designed to digest small amounts of food frequently. Horses cannot vomit, and will colic. “Colic” is a general term meaning abdominal pain.

Horse Digestive System

Horse Digestion

A Horse's Gastrointestinal (GI) Tract


Did you know it takes up to two to three days for food to completely pass through a horse's digestive tract?

The GI Tract of a Horse

Consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestines, cecum, large colon, small colon, and rectum.

Horse Digestion


Digestion begins in the mouth. The horse's teeth chew the food and they produce saliva which starts digestion.


The horse's esophagus transports food from his mouth to his stomach.

Horses cannot throw up, and their stomachs are very small compared to their large bodies. If a horse eats too much feed at once, he can colic or even rupture his stomach.


Roughage is fermented (digested) by microbes In the cecum. Horses have a very large cecum because they eat high fiber diets. The horse's cecum is about 4 times as big as his stomach.


The stomach secretes a strong acid that begins digestion and also kills bacteria. Some stomach cells secrete a protective mucous to keep the stomach acid from harming the cells lining the stomach.  Food material does not stay in the horse's stomach very long because the stomach is so small (it is only about 2 gallons in a 1,000-pound horse).

Large Intestines

Some fermentation occurs by microbes that live in the first part of the large intestine. As material passes through the rest of the large intestine, water is absorbed back into the horse's body.

Small Intestines

The small intestine is where most digestion occurs due to the enzymes the horse secretes. These enzymes can digest (break down) starches, proteins, and fats.

The small intestine is where almost all of the nutrients are absorbed into the horse's bloodstream. Any nutrients that are not absorbed into the bloodstream are lost in the manure.


Undigested food is expelled through the rectum.

A Horse’s Muscular System

Muscular System in Horses
horse muscular system

horses inside out muscle

Horses Inside Out & Muscle Systems

Gillian Higgins of Horses Inside Out shares in depth knowledge about horse muscular systems and anatomy. Check her out!