Dem Lovely Bones: Horse Bones, That Is.


In Equine Bodywork, knowledge of anatomy is crucial in understanding how all the inner--parts of a horse work together and effect each other. This is particularly helpful when practitioners of any kind are working to alleviate pain in the equine body.


More or less, the horse has 205 bones. The vertebral column is composed of +/- 54 bones: seven cervicals (neck), 18 thoracics (mid back), six lumbars (lower back), five fused sacral bones, and 15-21 caudal or coccygeal bones (tail) – 18 being average. There are 36 ribs, one sternum (breast bone), 34 bones in the skull including the inner ear, 40 bones of the thoracic limbs (front end) and 40 bones comprising the pelvic limbs (hind end).


However, there are some exceptions:

1. The Arabian horse has one less lumbar bone, one or two fewer thorasics and a fewer less tail bones which accounts for their higher tail carriage.

2. Other equines that have five lumbars (instead of six) are the donkey, ass and mule and the Prezwalski.

3. The sacrum consists of five fused vertebrae with the exception of: Przewalski horse, Shetland pony, ass and mule (consisting of four to six vertebrae).

4. The horse has seven cervical bones (neck). The only two mammals with less than seven cervicals are the manatee and the three-toed sloth, who both have six.


The first cervical vertebra is called the atlas. It is directly below the base of the skull (occiput). The joint between the atlas and the occiput is referred to the “yes” joint because it allows for extension and flexion in an up and down manner. Below the atlas is the axis or C2 vertebra. The axis allows for rotational movement of the head and is therefore referred to the “no” joint.


The withers are comprised of the third through the seventh thoracic vertebrae. The withers are the highest part of the back below the neck. From the withers to the 15th thoracic, the spines point caudally or down towards the tail. The 16th thoracic points straight upwards. And the lumbar face forward or cranially.


The pelvis connects the spine to the body via the sacroiliac joint and consists of three components:

1. Ischium

2. Iliam

3. Pubis




To learn more about Equine Bodywork, Horse Bodywork, Canine CranioSacral, Equine CranioSacral, CranioSacral for horses, Horse Speak®, Equine Pilates and/or Reformer Pilates for Humans here in Aiken, head to Pilates Mastery. If you’re looking for Pilates near me, Pilates Mastery also offers virtual Pilates sessions if you are not local to Aiken, SC. You may book an Equine Pilates or a Horse Speak® session at: pilatesmastery.org

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