Comparative Anatomy

Bridges can be built when we look at our similarities, not our differences.

Overview of horse and human bones – the foundation

This illustration shows that each bone of the horse and human vertebrae. They are color coded to match from the atlas (C1 or cervical vertebrae number 1) to the caudal vertebrae (vertebrae forming the structure of the tail).

From this perspective, you can compare all the regions, cervical (neck), thoracic (thorax or upper body), lumbar (lower back), sacrum (pelvic region) and the tailbones.

  • H,h – humerus or upper arm
  • S,s – scapula or shoulder blade
  • P,p – pelvis
  • F,f – femur or thigh bone

The image above shows a lateral view of human and horse skeletons, with basic labels to compare parts, angles and functions.

  • S,s – shoulder blade or scapula
  • H,h – humerus, or upper arm
  • E,e – elbow
  • R,r – radius or lower arm
  • P,p – pelvis
  • F,f – femur or thigh bone
  • PA,pa – patella or knee cap
  • T,t – tibia or shin

Now, we can really compare the horse and human skeletons.

  • Dark green dotted line – human wrist (carpal bones) to equine knee (carpal bones)
  • Light green dotted line – human middle metacarpal (long bone from the wrist to the first phalanx of the middle finger) to 3rd metacarpal (cannon bone) in the horse
  • Lavendar dotted line from heel to hock (calcaneus tarsal bone to calcaneus tarsal bone)
  • Blue dotted line – human middle metatarsal (long bone from ankle to first phalanx of the toe) to equine 3rd metatarsal (cannon bone)

Here we can see distinct differences in the moving skeletons, yet we have similar, comparative and associated parts with similar functions.

  • The horse has relatively short and thick femur (thigh) bones, and humerus (upper arm) bones.
  • The horse’s scapula (shoulder blade) is much larger and quite differently shaped to facilitate movement and strength in the front end of the horse.

Note: horses do not have collar bones

Published by Adrienne

Researcher | Author | Illustrator | Equine Energy Technician | Classical Dressage Published work: "Coherent Horsemanship: Combining the Quantum and the Classical" - 2020 AHP Award Winner for Excellence in Equine Media, "Legendary Hearts of Horses" - Readers’ Favorite 5-Star Reviews, EQUUS Film & Arts Fest Official Selection

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