So, You Think You Love Horses? Some Reflections on the Nature of Horses and Man

More Discussions by “The Accidental Horseman”

Anatomy and Physiology of the Horse: Introduction


We take so much that is around us for granted. We may marvel at the many creations of the hand of man but those things pale in comparison to the wonders of nature. The horse is truly one of these marvels. You might be forgiven if you think that topics like anatomy and physiology are boring. It is possible to make anything boring and that was something my own well-meaning teachers were often guilty of. For example, try memorizing the Latin names and bony insertions of all the major muscles of the human body. Handing out an assignment like that is a perfect way to destroy any sense of wonder someone might have about anatomy. Rather than doing something like that, I will tell you that a horse is a perfect natural running machine, a perfect eating machine and so on. So, just how from an anatomical and physiological perspective am I justified in saying this? That is what I hope to explain in my discussions of equine anatomy and physiology.

Forgive my venting this pet peeve but I find it astounding how poorly the average person understands science and the fundamental principles of science. It has become such an important element in our lives that we all should do a better job understanding it. Even more astounding to me are many of the poorly researched pieces I read that have been written by journalists, a group tasked with keeping the public informed once our period of formal education is over. Although there are some excellent science writers, many journalists seem to be more interested in a good story with an attention grabbing headline rather than in presenting accurate, unbiased scientific information and commentary. They incorrectly cite results of studies without really understanding the study’s true conclusions and relevance. Often people who are gifted in crafting the written word have problems with important mathematical fields such as statistics. The result is a lot of misinformation that confuses the public. People need to know if cholesterol counts, if antidepressants are effective, or if global warming is real in order to make correct decisions both as individuals and as citizens. For a very long time I have felt that there was very little acknowledgement of the lack of basic scientific literacy in our population, even through each of us had spent hours sitting in class rooms supposedly taking science courses. I was pleased to see an excellent article by Joel Achenbach that appeared in the March 2015 issue of the National Geographic Magazine that discussed the disconnect between what is considered established, evidence based scientific findings and widely held beliefs in significant segments of the population.

What I need to convey is that neither the human body nor the equine body functions through the operation of magic. No, both are the result of an absolutely amazing series of integrated biological systems, many of which are still not perfectly understood by science and all of which are complicated in ways that far exceed anything that humans have created.

Just for fun: A comparison of the horse and the motor vehicle

The Accidental Horseman

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