Relating Form to Function: Horse's Muscle

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Muscle areas of the horse

Muscling is an important criteria in judging many conformation classes, especially stock horses such as Quarter Horses, Paints, and Appaloosas. Muscling is proportional.

As one muscle in the body increases, total muscle mass increases. Muscling is visually appraised in the: 

  • Forearm
  • Chest
  • Shoulder
  • Loin
  • Stifle
  • Gaskin

Heavy-muscled horses have greater circumference of forearm, gaskin, and width of hindquarter than light-muscled horses.

Today, the horse industry accepts muscling that is long, clean, …

Permanent Identification using Freeze Branding in horses

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

A fairly new and less painful method, freeze branding uses irons chilled in liquid nitrogen. The hair that grows back where the brand was applied has no pigment, resulting in a white brand. Therefore, when freeze branding a gray or white horse, the brand must be kept on longer to give the appearance of a hot brand.

Another type of freeze brand, called the alpha angle system, uses a horse’s date of …

Permanent Identification in horses

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Equine Freeze Brand
on Shoulder


Using colorings and markings to identify a horse is a good method of horse identification, but what if a horse has no unique markings, such as one with solid bay coloring and no white facial or leg markings?

How would the owner identify his or her horse from a group of solid bays with no white markings? One way to do this is to use permanent identification methods to mark the horse.

Not …

Identification Using Signalments in Horses

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Signalments – Colorings and Markings

There are two types of identification methods used by the horse industry that enable individuals to keep track of their horses. One uses the horse’s natural markings and colorings, called signalments, and the other uses permanent markings. Every horse owner should keep a detailed record of the specific coloring and markings of his or her horse. Some breed associations and other groups require that a horse identification record …

Equine Laminitis or Founder

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Laminitis is an inflammation of the sensitive laminae of one or more hooves. Severe pain can result from poor circulatory congestion in the foot. When the sensitive laminae become inflamed, the union between the hoof and the laminae can separate. In severe cases the coffin bone can rotate and begin to penetrate the sole.

A foundered horse often has a distorted hoof with characteristic “founder rings,” a long toe that curls if …

Relating Form to Function: Horse's Front Legs, Side View

Ideal alignment of the horse's front legs, as viewed from the side.
Ideal alignment of the horse’s front legs, as viewed from the side.

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

When viewed from the side, the front column of bones should have the appropriate slope and angle of shoulder and pastern. Additionally, a straight line should run from the center of the scapula and bisect the leg equally in half, touching the heel of the hoof as pictured in the “ideal” side view.

Camped-under is a condition in which the forelimbs are …

Relating Form to Function: Horse's Frontlegs, Front View

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Horse's straight column of bone

The horse’s forelimb bears 65 percent of its body weight. Therefore, it is extremely important for a horse to have straight, structurally correct front legs. Due to the amount of weight on the forelimbs, horses suffer from more front leg injuries due to trauma and concussion than any other type of leg injuries.

Ideally, when viewing the forelegs from the front, a straight line from the point of the shoulder should bisect the entire …