Learning the parts of the horse can be challenging for young riders. Present kids with specific facts about the anatomy of the horse. These memorable facts can help children remember details about the small components that make up this big animal. Further details help them understand the different parts of the horse and how they work together.
The withers are the point between the shoulder blades that serves as a standard from which measurements of height are made. A horse that is 15 hands high, for example, measures 15 hands high from the ground to its withers.
A horse’s legs are composed primarily of bone, tendon and ligament. Muscles are not present in the lower portion of a horse’s leg; only tendons secure the bones. This makes horses particularly susceptible to injury in the lower legs.
A horse’s tail is not only pretty, but useful for swatting flies. The tail also helps to keep a horse’s hindquarters and the space between the legs warm in the winter. Horses have been known to stand close to each other and use the combined power of two tails to combat flies. If a horse is irritated, it will sometimes swish or “ring” its tail to signal its discomfort.
The whiskers that grow around a horse’s muzzle, eyes and throat are all useful for twitching flies away and keeping dirt and dust out of the nose and face.
A horse’s eyes can see almost completely around its body, with the exception of certain blind spots such as directly in front of or behind it, or underneath its head. Because of this nearly 360-degree vision, safely approaching a horse from behind requires letting it know you are there by placing a hand on its body.
Horses have an average of 36 to 44 teeth in their mouths. Each tooth is about 1 to 2 inches long. A horse’s teeth will need to be filed or “floated” once per year, a procedure performed by an equine dentist or vet. Until a horse is middle aged (9 or 10 years old), its age can be determined by examining the teeth.
Horses use their mouths to chew their food and to nip at flies and each other, but cannot breathe through their mouths.
A horse’s ears often signal how it is feeling or what it is paying attention to. If both ears are pointing at something, the animal is looking at the object or person with interest or alarm. If one of its ears is pointing forward and the other is cocked back or to the side, the horse is listening with one ear and looking with the other. If both ears are pinned, it is angry or defensive.