Horse Anatomy for a Working Ranch Vacation

Without horses, we could never host cattle drive vacations. You couldn’t call cattle smart exactly, but they can be clever. More than that, they still possess the herd instincts of their wild auroch forebears. They can evade and confuse with the best of them, using herd dynamics to make life difficult for any creature trying to move them around. Man on foot is hopeless against cattle: not only are cattle fast when they need to be, but they are also dangerous if they want to be. It takes other herd animals and the guidance of a skilled team of riders to make the herd go where it needs to go. Horses fit the bill exactly.

Dryhead Ranch isn’t just a premier cattle drive vacation destination… it is also home to world-renowned quarter-horses. We take horses very seriously here at the ranch, and we hope you do too.

Cattle Drive Horse Terminology

The equestrian world is full of specific terminology. Thanks to the fact that putting a leather saddle on a thousand-pound animal that walks on its tiptoes is a very specialized thing, horse people tend to use very specialized language. In the case of horses, it is especially important to know the anatomical terms we use for body parts people don’t have. For instance, do you know where your croup is? Can you identify your fetlock? If not, read on. We’ll start from the back and end with the withers.


Where the saddle sits.


The wide part of the horse formed by the ribs. Most of the organs are in here.


The part of the hindquarters behind the thighs and in front of the dock.


A very long hand or foot bone with the fetlock hoof at the end of it, though people sometimes call it a “shin.”


Not actually a nut, but rather one of (up to) four callous-like protrusion on the upper inner legs of a horse.

Chin Groove

Behind the lower lip and chin. The curb chain can go here.


The loin.


Sort of like your cuticle, this is where the outer surface of the hoof comes from.


The mane comes out here.


The tops of the hindquarters.


The part of the tail that isn’t just hair.


The joint of the front leg where the leg meets the belly. Just like your elbow, but you have a longer humerus.


Like a chestnut, but on the fetlock.


Above the top lip, below the forehead.


Right above the hoof, a joint sort of like a joint at the end of your toe.


Where the barrel meets the hind legs.


Somehow, on a horse, this is between the knee and the elbow.


Where you might expect it to be, which is right in front of the poll.


The part of the mane that falls on the forehead.


The soft back under-part of the hoof.


Like your calf muscle.


The part behind the elbow where you might strap on a saddle. Also the widest part of the barrel.


Above the stifle, behind the barrel.


The big back leg joint, which is like your ankle.


Like the foot of the horse, but more like finger- and toe tips with the world’s toughest nails.

Jugular Groove

Where the jugular vein goes.


The big bone in the front leg, which is like your wrist.


Right behind the saddle, from the last rib to the croup.


Long hair growing on the ridge of the neck.


Where the mouth and nostrils are.


The bones between the hoof and the fetlock.


The joint at the beginning of the neck; also, the big bump on the top of the head.

Root of the Tail

Where the dock is attached to the rump.


Goes from the withers to the points of the shoulders.


Two skinny little bones on either side of all four cannon bones.


Like your knee, if you had really short femurs and really long feet.


The long hairs coming out of the dock, and also (sometimes) the dock.


Where the windpipe slips in under the jaw.


The tip tops of the spine bones between the shoulders.

Working Ranch Horse Getaway

Can you identify all the important parts of this horse? If you have a tablet, screencap this picture or just save it and then use your stylus to label each piece! Learning is what cattle drive vacations at Dryhead Ranch are all about.

So, now that your know how to talk about horses, it’s time to put that new knowledge to good use. Give us a call here at Dryhead Ranch today to talk about booking your own cattle drive horse vacation. We guarantee you’ll be able to brush up on your equestrian anatomical terminology while you’re here.

Interested in a Cattle Drive Vacation? Send us Your Questions or Comments.

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