How Many Ribs Does A Horse Have? (TOP 5 Tips)

Each rib is attached to a thoracic vertebrae, so horses generally have 18 pairs of ribs, corresponding to their 18 thoracic vertebrae. Occasionally, a 19th rib may be present on one or both sides of the vertebral column, but these ribs are usually partially formed or misshapen.

  • Horses have 24 ribs. They decrease in size from the last rib to the first. Horses are mammals, but don’t have 12 thoracic and 12 lumbar vertebrae.

What animal has 12 ribs?

The number of ribs differ between species: Carnivores:12-14 (9 sternal, 4 asternal) Dogs: 13 (9 sternal, 4 asternal) Pigs: 13-16 (7 sternal, 7-8 asternal)

How long is a horse rib?

If we applied the last rib rule to a Western saddle we wouldn’t be able to build a saddle with a seat any bigger than about 12 inches! A tree with a 12 inch seat is going to have a bar length of around 19 inches. An average Quarter Horse has a rib cage about 19 inches long.

How many ribs do animals have?

The number of pairs of ribs in mammals varies from 9 (whale) to 24 (sloth); of true ribs, from 3 to 10 pairs. In humans there are normally 12 pairs of ribs. The first seven pairs are attached directly to the sternum by costal cartilages and are called true ribs.

Where is the last rib on a horse?

You can feel the last rib— the 18th rib —with your hand. It’s also called the last thoracic rib, but you get the idea. Follow that rib with your hand as it curves up along the barrel toward his spine. You will notice the rib seems to disappear as it goes under that longissimus muscle before it reaches the backbone.

How many ribs do elephants have?

African elephants have 21 pairs of ribs, while Asian elephants have 19 or 20 pairs.

How many ribs do monkeys have?

The number of ribs found in monkeys varies from species to species, ranging from 12 to 14 pairs of ribs.

How many ribs do Arabian horses have?

Skeletal analysis Some Arabians, though not all, have 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of the usual 6, and 17 pairs of ribs rather than 18.

How many ribs a cow has?

Rib. As the name implies, the rib primal cut refers to meat cut from the cow’s ribs and backbone. Of the 13 pairs of ribs on a cow, only the last six are classified in this section – the rest are grouped with chuck and short plate! Rib cuts are notable for their fatty marbling, tenderness, and distinctive flavor.

How many ribs do pigs have?

While most pigs typically have 13 ribs, Braun’s pigs have 16 to 17. They also produce more milk and are bred to resist disease.

How many ribs does a snake have?

The snake’s flexible backbone consists of many vertebrae with 2 ribs attached to each one, except in the tail, which has no ribs.

What animals have no ribs?

Without either ribs or diaphragm frogs can’t perform what’s called ‘costal ventilation’ or breathing by expanding and relaxing their chest cavity. Instead frogs (and toads) breathe through ‘buccal pumping’, their throat and chin muscles contract and relax to force air in and out of their lungs.

Which animal has most ribs?

Notes: Snakes have the maximum number of ribs. On an average they have 200 to 400 bones (Vertibrae ) and each have a pair of ribs on either side.

Horse Anatomy: How Many Ribs Does a Horse Have?

Do you know how many ribs a horse has in its torso? How much do you know about the anatomy of your horse’s body? Unless you’re a veterinarian or a student of veterinary medicine, a horse artist or a student of equestrian art, the answer is definitely not much! This is entirely natural, but it might be beneficial for both you and your horse to understand a little bit more about each other! The horse’s skeleton constitutes a significant portion of its anatomy, and the horse’s skeleton is particularly distinct when compared to the skeletons of other animals.

In terms of aesthetics and build, the ribcage of a horse has a significant influence.

How Many Ribs Does a Horse Have?

Simple answer to this question is that horses have eighteen pairs of ribs, eighteen on each side of their bodies for a total of thirty-six ribs on their bodies. However, this is subject to change! It is not rare for horses to be born with an additional pair of ribs, bringing the total number of ribs to nineteen pairs and thirty-eight in total. It is also typical for horses to have only one additional rib on either the right or left side, rather than a whole extra pair, on either the right or left side.

Horse Rib Shape and Structure

The ribs of a horse may be divided into two primary anatomical divisions, which are as follows: The “real ribs” are the first eight pairs of ribs in a horse’s ribcage, and they are the most important ribs in the horse’s ribcage. When you say you can “see a horse’s ribs,” what you are really seeing are the ribs of the animal. These ribs are responsible for connecting portions of the sternum or breastbone. The “floating ribs” refer to the final 10 (or more) pairs of ribs in a horse’s ribcage, which are located in the second half of the ribcage.

These ribs are the shortest of the horse’s ribs since they are placed the furthest away from the horse’s head.

As a horse’s haunches approach, the ribs get shorter as a result of the progression.

Consequently, when a horse does have a twentieth pair of ribs, or even just an additional one, the horse’s ribs are frequently malformed or deformed.

Rib Structure Importance in Equine Wellness

The ribs of a horse can play an important part in deciding and shaping the health and well-being of the animal. Doctor Don Henneke of Texas A M University established a body scoring system in the 1970s that measured a horse’s overall wellbeing and health based on whether or not the horse’s ribs were visible on the outside of the horse. Despite the fact that this technique is still in use today, many horse owners and vets view the visibility of a horse’s ribs as an indicator of the health and condition of that horse’s overall well-being.

This is an excellent approach to utilize when experimenting with new meals, new supplements, or even a different turnout plan in order to try to notice and document the changes that occur in your horse’s body as a result of these changes.

When fitting a horse for a saddle, it is also vital to take the horse’s ribcage into consideration. When the saddle is properly fitted to a horse’s back, the saddle is supported mostly by the horse’s ribs and the muscles that run over the horse’s back.

Structure is Importance for Horse Health

The width of the saddle, which is known to as “tree” width in English riding, is determined by the breadth of the horse’s ribcage and is measured in inches. You run the danger of pinching the horse’s withers and ribs if you choose a saddle that is too tight. If you choose a saddle that is too broad, you run the risk of the saddle sliding back over the horse’s barrel. When it comes to English or Western girthing, the position of the horse’s ribs is equally important. Naturally, the girth will slide to the point on the horse’s body where it is the narrowest.

The girth must be placed behind the horse’s front legs since this is the area where the animal is the narrowest.

Some horses have abnormally-shaped ribcages, which gradually lean upwards toward their rear legs as the horse grows in size.

Read more about The 15 Major Components of a Horse Described.

Horse Ribs Compared to Other Animals

The most significant distinction between a horse’s rib cage and the rib cages of other animals is the number of ribs! In comparison to other animals such as cows, sheep, cats, goats, and dogs that have thirteen ribs, humans only have twelve. Animals with thirteen legs, such as pigs, are rare. Many people believe that the horse’s long ribcage was one of the factors that led many early humans to try to ride horses rather than other types of animal.


Horses have a rib cage that is one of a kind, with thirty-six to thirty-eight ribs in eighteen to nineteen pairs, making up their rib cage! The ribs of a horse play an important part in the general health and fit of the horse’s saddle, as well as providing owners and veterinarians with a useful tool for analyzing and comparing horses over time. When compared to the ribcage of humans and other animals, a horse’s ribcage is radically different. It is one of the reasons why horses are such a desirable animal for riding, since it allows the horse to carry heavy loads on its back, such as saddles and humans, without being fatigued.

If so, please share this post with your friends and family, as well as any related experiences and anecdotes you may have!


False ribs, also known as false vertebrae or non-thoracic ribs in horse anatomy, are small and stubby bones that protrude from the chest. The horse’s body wall produces these bones, which develop from there. When they reach the end of their length, they bend abruptly outwards to join to the ribs above them. False ribs, in contrast to actual horse ribs, which are connected to the horse’s spine by cartilage, have no link to the horse’s spine (i.e., false ribs are not a component of the horse’s rib cage).

They are comprised of a body or shaft that is linked to the horse’s body wall by means of tendons.

This angled end is attached to the actual rib of the horse above it via a tendon.

The tubercle is the point at which the horse’s artificial ribs attach to the vertebrae.

The form of the horse’s first two fake ribs differs from the shape of the horse’s remaining false ribs. They are referred to as floating ribs, vertebrochondral ribs, or vertebrochondral ribs because they link to the horse’s vertebrae as well as the horse’s rib cage, earning them the names.

What do false ribs do in horses?

False ribs are critical in the mobility of horses because they act as a lever for the horse’s diaphragm, which allows the horse to move more freely. This helps the horse to breathe more deeply and effectively, which is critical during a run or galloping performance. False ribs also serve to protect the horse’s digestive organs. During galloping, they function as a protective shield. When a horse kicks its hind legs, the fake ribs in the horse’s rib cage help to keep the intestines out of harm’s way.

How does horse’s false ribs function as a lever for horse’s diaphragm?

The diaphragm of the horse, which is a muscle that aids in horse breathing, is responsible for the horse’s breathing. The false ribs of the horse are attached to the vertebrae and subsequently to the diaphragm, which is the horse’s respiratory organ. When a horse takes a breath, the artificial ribs of the horse lift and pull the diaphragm higher. In this way, false ribs act as a lever, amplifying the force imparted to the horse’s diaphragm when the animal takes a deep breath. This is why the artificial ribs of a horse must be bent outwards in order to prevent injury.

The first pair of fake ribs (also known as the floating or vertebrochondral ribs) in the horse’s diaphragm serve an even more important role.

This is the reason why horses are unable to breathe adequately when their ribs are not floating.

What are floating ribs?

The horse’s floating ribs are a distinguishing characteristic that differentiates it from all other mammals in the world. The first two pairs of artificial ribs are referred to as floating ribs. They are joined to the horse’s vertebrae by means of a floating rib bone that is unique to horses, known as the floating rib tuberosity, which is a component of the floating rib itself. Another point other than its angled end, which joins to the actual rib above it through a tendon, the floating rib is connected to the horse’s diaphragm via the floating rib.

This cartilage-based structure, rather than bone, supports the floating ribs.

The floating rib tuberosity is a critical feature that permits the floating ribs to move in sync with the fluid motion of the horse’s spine as it moves forward when the horse is running.

Skeletal system of the horse – Wikipedia

The skeletal system of the horse is responsible for three primary functions in the animal’s body.

It covers important organs, serves as a framework, and provides support for the body’s soft tissues. Horses have a total of 205 bones on average. There are 19 bones in the pelvic limb and 20 bones in the thoracic limb, according to standard anatomy.

Functions of bones

When it comes to the skeletal system, bones perform three key functions: they operate as levers, they store minerals, and they serve as the location of red blood cell creation. Generally speaking, bones may be divided into five groups.

  1. Long bones are used for mobility, mineral storage, and as levers in the body. They are most commonly seen in the limbs. Short bones have the ability to absorb concussion. Joints such as the knee, hock, and fetlock are affected by this condition. Flat bones: These bones are used to enclose bodily cavities that house organs. Rips are instances of flat bones
  2. The femur is another. Bones that are out of alignment: They protect the central nervous system. The vertebral column is made up of irregularly shaped bones. Bones that are lodged within a tendon are referred to as sesamoid bones. In the horse world, the proximal digital sesamoids are simply referred to as “sesamoid bones,” whereas the horse’s distal digital sesamoids are referred to as the “thavicular bone.”

Ligaments and tendons are responsible for holding the skeletal system together. Ligaments connect bones to one another, while tendons connect bones to muscle. Synovial membranes are located in joint capsules, where they contain synovial fluid, which is responsible for lubricating the joints and tendons. Bones are protected by a strong membrane known as the periosteum, which covers the entire bone with the exception of the articular surfaces.

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The skeletal system is held together by ligaments and tendons. In the same way that tendons connect muscles to their joints, ligaments connect bones to one another. It is located in joint capsules, where it contains synovial fluid, which is responsible for lubricating the joints. Porosteum (a strong membrane that surrounds the whole bone except for the sites of articulation) protects bones from injury and wear and tear.

  • The nuchal and supraspinous ligaments are two ligaments that attach to the dorsal surface of the cervical vertebrae. The nuchal ligament attaches to the dorsal side of the cervical vertebrae. Its dorsal half extends from the occipital protuberance of the head (the poll) to the withers, where it narrows to form the supraspinous ligament. Its ventral section extends from the withers to the poll. The thoracic spine also links the 2nd-7th cervical vertebrae to the 1st-3rd thoracic vertebrae and vice versa. Its primary function is to provide support for the head while allowing it to be moved upward or downward. The intercapital ligaments are located between the first and twelfth ribs of the body. Helps to avoid the herniation of the thoracic disk.

Leg ligaments include the following:

  • Located at the bottom of the fetlock, the suspensory ligament extends from behind the cannon bone (between the two splint bones), then splits into two branches and joins to the sesamoid bones at the rear of the cannon bone. After that, the branches continue downward and connect with the extensor tendons. The primary function of the suspensory is to provide support for the fetlock joint and prevent it from becoming overextended. When this ligament is injured, it is a common source of lameness in high-level performance horses. There are tendon fibers in the suspensory, as well as residual muscle fibers, which makes it the equine analogue of the interosseous muscle, and this muscle is a modified muscle. Interosseous ligaments: These ligaments link the cannon bone to each of the splint bones on each side. Splints are caused by an injury to this ligament
  • They are a painful ailment. Check ligaments at the proximal and distal ends: This ligament arises from the radius and joins to the superficial digital flexor tendon, which is the most common kind of digital flexor tendon. The distal check originates from the palmar carpal ligament and joins to the deep digital flexor tendon, which is located roughly two-thirds of the way down the metacarpal. When it comes to the rear limb, the plantar ligament runs down the lateral side of the tarsus and attaches to the fibular, 4th tarsal, and 3rd metatarsal bones, respectively. A condition called as “curb” is caused by a traumatic injury. Inter-sesamoidean ligaments: These are supporting ligaments that run between the two sesamoid bones
  • Distal sesamoidean ligaments: These are ligaments that run from the sesamoid bones to the two pastern bones
  • And proximal sesamoidean ligaments: These are ligaments that run from the sesamoid bones to the two pastern bones. It is essential in the stay apparatus. The impar ligament is a band of connective tissue that extends between the navicular bone and the third phalanx. This ligament wraps around the rear of the fetlock, encircling the flexor tendons and their tendon sheath, and connects to the sesamoid bones at the tibia and fibula. Additionally, it serves as an enclosed “pulley” through which the flexor tendons may pass
  • It aids in the support of the fetlock. The sacrosciatic ligament is a ligament that originates from the sacrum and coccygeal vertebrae and inserts into the pelvis.

Axial skeleton

Skull of a Horse (Unknown breed) The skull, vertebral column, sternum, and ribs are all parts of the axial skeleton. The sternum is made up of several sternebrae that join together to create a single bone that is linked to the eight “real” pairs of ribs out of a total of eighteen. The vertebral column is made up of 54 bones in most people: A total of 7 cervical vertebrae, including the atlas (C1) and axis (C2), which support and assist in moving the skull, 18 thoracic vertebrae (rarely 19), 5-6 lumbar vertebrae, 5 sacral vertebrae (which fuse together to form the sacrum), and 15-25 caudal vertebrae with an average of 18 are found in the human body.

  1. For example, certain Arabs, though not all, may have 5 lumbar vertebrae, as opposed to the customary 6, 17 thoracic vertebrae (as well as ribs) instead of 18, and 16 or 17 caudal vertebrae, as opposed to the usual 18.
  2. The skull is made up of 34 bones and has four cavities: the cranial cavity, the orbital cavity, the oral cavity, and the nasal cavity.
  3. The cranial cavity encloses and protects the brain, as well as providing support for a number of sensory organs.
  4. A passageway into the respiratory and digestive systems can be found in the mouth cavity.

The nasal cavity is lined by turbinate bones, which act as a barrier between the heated inspired air and the mucous membrane that borders the cavity. The human skull is made up of fourteen main bones.

  1. Anatomical description: The incisive bone (premaxillary) is a portion of the upper jaw where the incisors are attached. The nasal bone is responsible for protecting the nasal cavity. Molar roots are located in the maxillary bone, which is a big bone that includes the roots of the teeth. The mandible is the lowest section of the jaw and the biggest bone in the body of the skull. A part of the lacrimal bone that houses the nasolacrimal duct, which is responsible for transporting fluid from the surface of the eye to the nose. The frontal bone is responsible for the formation of the horse’s forehead. The parietal bone is a long bone that runs from the forehead to the rear of the skull. This bone is responsible for forming the junction between the skull and the first vertebrae of the neck (the atlas)
  2. It is also known as the occipital bone. Contains the everlasting acoustic meatus, which transports sound from the ear to the cochlea (eardrum)
  3. Temporal bone: contains the temporal bone. Affixed to the temporal bone, the zygomatic bone forms the zygomatic arch (also known as the cheek bone). The palatine bone is a bony structure that forms the rear of the hard palate. The sphenoid bone, located at the base of the skull, is created by the union of the foetal basisphenoid and presphenoid bones. Horses who rear over backwards are more likely to fracture their rib cage. The vomer is a bony structure that forms the top of the interior of the nasal cavity. Pterygoid: a tiny bone that attaches to the sphenoid and continues downward
  4. It is also known as the “little finger.”

Appendicular skeleton

The skeleton of the appendicular forelimb The fore and hindlimbs are comprised of the appendicular skeleton. In horses, the hindlimb attaches to the vertebral column through the pelvis, whereas the forelimb does not attach directly to the spine (due to the lack of a collar bone), but is instead held in place by muscles and tendons instead. This allows for a great deal of flexibility in the horse’s front limb, and it is partly responsible for the horse’s ability to fold his legs up when jumping.

Important bones and joints of the forelimb

  • The scapula (shoulder blade) is a flat bone with a significant region of cartilage on its surface that helps to shape the withers to some extent. When horsemen are analyzing the shape of a horse, the length and angle of the shoulder are quite essential. The humerus is located between the scapula and the radius, forming an angle of approximately 55 degrees downward and backward from the radius. (The word “Humercus” is spelt incorrectly in the illustration.) This bone runs down from the elbow joint, where it articulates with the humerus, and into the carpus. Together with the ulna, it serves as the horse’s “forearm.” In an adult horse, the ulna is located caudal to the radius, and it is normally partly fused to that bone. When the horse is standing, the shoulder joint (scapulohumeral joint) has an angle of 120-130 degrees, which may be stretched to 145 degrees and contracted to 80 degrees (for example, when the horse is leaping an obstacle). It is possible to bend the elbow joint (humeroradial joint) 55-60 degrees
  • It is a hinge joint. The carpus (knee) is made up of 7-8 bones that are arranged in two rows to produce three joints. One of the carpal bones, the first carpal bone, is only present 50% of the time. The wrist is the location of this on humans.

Important bones and joints of the hindlimb

The skeleton of the appendicular hindlimb

  • Pelvis: A horse’s pelvis is made up of the os coxae, which are the biggest of the horse’s flat bones. Theilium, theischium, and thepubis are the components of this structure. Located at the intersection of these three bones is a hollow known as the acetabulum, which serves as the socket for the hip joint. The mare’s pelvic cavity is wider in diameter than that of the stallion, allowing for greater space for the foal to be born. The femur is the longest bone in a horse and the greatest in length. A ball and socket joint is formed with the pelvis to form the hip joint, and the stifle joint is formed when the femur joins the tibia and patella at the end of the leg. Besides serving as a connection point for the deep and middle gluteal muscles, it also functions as a connection point for the auxiliary and round ligaments. Patella
  • Tibia is a muscle that goes from the stifle to the hock. The patellar ligaments, meniscal ligaments, cruciate ligaments, and collateral ligaments of the stifle are all attached to the proximal end of the stifle by the proximal end. Attachment of the collateral ligaments of the hock is provided by the distal end of the femur. Most horses have a fibula that is entirely linked to their tibia. In humans, the hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint composed of the acetabulum of the pelvis and the femur (thigh bone). It has a high degree of stability. It is really made up of three joint compartments: the femoropatellar joint, the medial femorotibial joint, and the lateral femorotibial joint, all of which are maintained by a network of ligaments. The femoropatellar joint is the most common kind of knee joint. There is an articular angle of around 150 degrees in the stifle. The tarsus (hock) is made up of six bones (one of which is made up of the fused 1st and 2nd tarsal bones) that are arranged in three rows. The calcaneusor fibular tarsal bone, the biggest bone in the hock, corresponds to the human heel and is responsible for the formation of the tuber calcis (point of hock). Several muscles, including the gastrocnemius tendon, sections of the biceps femoris, and portions of the superficial digital flexor, connect at this site.

Bones of the lower limb

Cannon bone (3rd metacarpal/3rd metatarsal), splint bones (2nd and 4th metacarpals/metatarsals), proximal sesamoid bones, long pastern (proximal or 1st phalanx), short pastern (middle or 2nd phalanx), coffin bone (distal or 3rd phalanx), andnavicular bone are all lower-limb bones that are present in both the front (distal sesamoid). When comparing the front and back of the body, there are generally only modest changes in these bones. The third metatarsal is approximately one-sixth the length of the third metacarpal.

The first phalanx of the hindlimb is shorter than the first phalanx of the frontlimb, and the second phalanx is longer than the first phalanx of the frontlimb.

The angle formed by these three bones in the hindleg is approximately 5 degrees steeper than the angle formed by these three bones in the foreleg, resulting in a steeper pastern angle behind than in front.

Skeletal system disorders

  • Bone spavin, ringbone, and omarthritis are examples of degenerative joint disease (DJD)
  • Carpitis (sprained knee) and osselets are examples of an inflammatory joint disease (IJD).
  • Suspensory ligament sprains, degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis (DSLD), and bucked shins are all conditions that can occur. Fractures
  • The patellar tendon is locked (delayed patellar release or intermittent upward fixation of the patella). Disease of the Navicular System
  • The horse has osteochondrosis (bone disease). Sesamoiditis, splints, and a wry nose are all possible outcomes.

Joint disease in horses

Human athletes put a great deal of stress on their bones and joints, and horses in competition do the same thing. Especially if the horse leaps, gallops, or makes rapid turns or changes of pace, as may be observed in racehorses, show jumpers, eventers, polo ponies, reiners, and western performance horses, this is especially true. The development of arthritis in performance horses is common, especially in horses who are worked intensively while they are young or on sloppy ground. It is common for the therapy of early joint disease to be combined with the use of nutritional supplements.

Advanced therapeutics, such as Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP) and stem cell treatments, are available for patients suffering from acute forms of the disease.


  1. AbKing, Christine, BVSc, MACVSc, and Mansmann, Richard, VMD, PhD, discuss the suspensory ligament in detail. “Equine Lameness,” as the term is used. Equine Research, Inc. was founded in 1997. Vol. II of the Illustrated Atlas of Clinical Equine Anatomy and Common Disorders of the Horse, by Ronald J. Riegal, DVM, and Susan E. Hakola, RN, is available online. Equistar Publication, Limited is a publishing company based in the United Kingdom. Copyright 2000, Marysville, Ohio
  2. Marysville, Ohio
  • Equine Medications, Revised Edition, edited by Barbara C. Forney, MS, VMD. Blood Horse Publications is based in Lexington, Kentucky. Copyright granted in 2007

Comparable Parts No. 6 – Quit ribbing me! – For Students Of Horsemanship

The majority of people do not enjoy being poked in the ribs, and the majority of horses do not enjoy it either. During the course of your ride on a horse, you will have a lot of touch with his ribs. Did you know that your saddle sits on the muscles around his ribs, and that his ribcage is essentially what is supporting you and the horse? Another point to mention is that the legs of your horse wrap around his ribcage and rest directly (depending on how fat your horse is) on his ribs, which we prefer to think of as his sides rather than the individual ribs themselves.

  1. There are horses, on the other hand, that will pin their ears, tighten their bodies, and buck if you use your spurs.
  2. Horses and humans have ribcages that are essentially the same in terms of design.
  3. Ribs are elastic arches of bone that are paired, with two for each thoracic vertebrae.
  4. As for the remainder, these cartilage attachments to the ribs above them are known as false ribs because they do not join directly to the sternum but instead adhere to the rib cartilage above them.
  5. The majority of horses do not have any floating ribs, unlike humans who are blessed with two sets.
  6. The sternum is made up of a combination of cartilage and bone, and it never becomes entirely bony.
  7. The manubrium is the cranial segment closest to the head or cranium, and it is the longest part of the skull.
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The xiphoid process is the name given to the caudal segment of the xiphoid process (which also happens to be a wonderful Scrabble ® word for the letter x!).

Immediately in the centre of the surface is a tiny “V” form known as the sternoclavicular notch (sterno = sternum, clavicular = clavicle or collarbone, notch = “V” shaped incision in the surface’s edge).

Continue to trace your sternum until you reach the finish.

It’s possible that you’ll feel a small piece of process hanging down right below where the lower ribs join.

Take a step back and look at the edge of your fake ribs until you reach your floating ribs.

Continue to trace the ribs that are dangling back towards the spine.

Because of the back muscles that sit on top of your ribs, you may not be able to feel anything completely.

Finally, starting at the top of your sternum, run your fingers along either side of your sternum to count how many pairs of ribs you can find.

If he is really overweight, this might be an issue, so you may want to locate a tiny horse to ride around on until you figure out what you are looking for.

Place your hand between the horse’s front legs on the horse’s chest and hold it there.

The cranial section of the horse’s sternum is seen here.

Place your hand between the horse’s front legs from behind the elbow, and trace the sternum forward as far as you possibly can – but be cautious not to injure yourself!

Follow the sternum all the way from the chest all the way to the rear end.

Find the groove in the horse’s girth that is behind the elbow.

When you tighten your girth, keep in mind that you are applying pressure on this area.

When someone is overweight, it is difficult to feel their ribs since they are covered with fat.

Draw a line up the back of your neck towards your spine.

Last but not least, run your fingertips along the sides of your horse’s legs.

Try to feel for the hard ribs down the horse’s sides, with a line of soft tissue between each one, along with the soft tissue between each one.

This is the point at which the rib’s angle changes as it turns toward the vertebra.

The number of ribs and the general structure of the ribcage are the most significant differences, as we have just discussed.

Horses have 18 (sometimes 19) pairs of ribs, with eight pairs of actual ribs and ten pairs of fake ribs in each rib cage. Horses can occasionally have floating ribs, and these ribs can be unpaired at times (only exist on one side).

Photo 1.

On horseback, there’s an image of an adult human riding bareback. When riding on a saddle, the rider’s leg is placed further back on the rib cage. Because only the calcified component of the horse’s skeleton survives, the cartilage and sternum have been removed from the horse’s skeleton. Take note of how far back the rider sits on his or her ribcage, over the 13-14 ribs below where the horse’s center of gravity is located while the animal is standing. In front of the horse’s shoulder blades, the ribs continue to protrude.

Photo 2.

Viewed from the top of the head down to the bottom of the tail. Take special note of the bend of the ribs under the thigh bones in this illustration.

Photo 3.

From the top of the head down to the bottom of the tail Be sure to look closely at that bend of the ribcage beneath the thigh bones.

Photo 4.

An illustration of a horse’s ribcage, including cartilage, the sternum, and the intercostal (between ribs) muscles, all of which are important in the horse’s breathing. Image courtesy of Pauli Gornberg’s ABC of the Horse Atlas, which may be purchased through the Murdoch Method’s online store at In addition to reining, Wendy Murdoch has competed in a number of horse sports from childhood, including hunter/jumper and dressage/eventing. Wendy has been working as an international educator for more than two decades.

More information may be found at:

Horse Anatomy: How Many Ribs Does a Horse Have? – Source of Horse

  • Horse Rib Shape and Structure
  • How Many Ribs Does a Horse Have
  • The Importance of Rib Structure in Equine Wellness
  • The Importance of Structure in Horse Health
  • Horse Ribs in Comparison to Other Animals
  • Final Thoughts

How Many Ribs Does a Horse Have?

The ribs of a horse are divided into 19 pairs, which may be determined by counting them. Horses are mammals, which means they have warm-blooded circulation, are viviparous, and have mammary glands. One of the factors that distinguishes mammals from other animals is the presence of lungs and skin. The horse is equipped with two sets of lungs. They are housed within the animal’s chest cavity. The horse has two sets of lungs because it needs to breathe on a continuous basis. They must be able to breathe while they eat or drink water, as well as when they engage in vigorous exercise.

What is the number of legs on a horse?

What is the number of nipples on a horse?

Horse Rib Shape and Structure

The architecture of the horse’s ribcage protects all internal organs from contact with the hard saddle and sharp spurs, which can cause serious injury. The rib structure, on the other hand, provides for more flexibility in the spine and chest muscles. The ribcage of a horse is made up of eight sternal ribs and 13 to 21 floating ribs on either side of the mid-section, with the sternal ribs being the most prominent. The thoracic diaphragm is a flexible membrane that divides the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity.

This critical organ is protected by a bone cage that surrounds the horse’s heart, which is positioned in the center of the horse’s ribcage.

Horse’s lungs are related to the horse’s rib cage, which expands and contracts in response to exhalation, allowing the lungs to expand and fill with air.

The digestive system of the horse is related to its chests, and it can be seen moving up and down in a regular pattern when the horse consumes and digests its food.

The fact that this system is a little bit longer than the intestines means that it is more likely to be on the outside of the rib cage, which is why you can often see your horse’s ribs even while it is grazing.

Rib Structure Importance in Equine Wellness

The rib cage is a structure that connects the thorax to the abdomen. It is made up of three bones. The scapula, the sternum, and the thoracic vertebrae are the bones of the upper torso. Running over long distances is made possible by the horse’s bony rib cage structure, which provides it with resilience, mobility, and stamina. Along with a complicated system of air sacs and lung capacity not present in humans, the horse also possesses a unique respiratory system found exclusively in animals that must breathe via their lungs, which is located inside the rib cage.

In addition to protecting this important organ, the horse’s rib cage provides access to a complicated respiratory system.

13 fore ribs

12 ribs in the middle. There are 33 ribs in the back.

Structure is Importance for Horse Health

If you intend to own a horse, you should be familiar with the animal’s anatomy. This is necessary so that you can inspect their body when they are in pain and know what to do to make them feel better. Due to the fact that horses are mammalian, their bodies are quite similar to ours. except that they are bigger, more hairy, and have longer tails than the average cat. However, we do share some of the same organs in our bodies. A horse has been specially bred to be able to hold its own weight, as well as the weight of their rider and any other items that they may be required to transport.

  • This enables them to carry heavy burdens without having to worry about their abdomen since their gut is always full, allowing them to do so without discomfort.
  • The trunk of our body is responsible for attaching our arms and legs to our bodies.
  • The horse’s ribs are related to the horse’s spine, pelvis, and sternum (breastbone), which makes up its chest.
  • Also, let the horse’s muscles and tendons to attach themselves to the bridle as well.

Horse Ribs Compared to Other Animals

When it comes to mammals, horses are notable for possessing a four chambered heart, which is utilized to pump oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. The heart of the horse is protected by the rib cage, which is regarded to be one of the most vital organs in the animal. The chambered heart of a horse is located under the rib cage of the animal. The rib cage of a horse is critical to its respiratory function, which is utilized to draw air in to take in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide, as well as to regulate body temperature.

The rib cage is a complex and vast construction that comprises a large number of ribs in a pair.

A horse’s chest is broad and deep, which helps to boost lung capacity, which in turn helps to provide oxygen to the heart. When a horse takes a breath, the ribs extend to provide room for the lungs to expand.


Horses have a total of 24 ribs. They become smaller as they progress from the last rib to the first. Horses are mammals, yet they do not have the same number of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae as humans. Horses have just seven thoracic vertebrae and five lumbar vertebrae, which makes them the smallest of all the animals. Thoracic vertebrae are plainly visible, however the lumbar vertebrae are obscured by the loin muscles in this position. What if I told you something you already knew? What is the purpose of a horse’s 24 ribs?


The rib cage

On April 14, 2012, Rod and Denise posted a message. We are no longer in the business of creating saddle trees. On our website, we have two saddle fit films that are free to see. Although geared towards riders, the six-hour series Western Saddle Fit – The Basics is available on DVD or streaming on Vimeo, while the six-hour series Well Beyond the Basics, which is aimed at professionals but comprehensible by everyone, is available on DVD or streaming on Vimeo. (We have decided to keep this website up since we have received several requests to make the material accessible.) The rib cage is the only component of the skeleton that hasn’t been covered in earlier sections in this series, so here it is.

  • You should be aware that the horse has 18 ribs, which is a significant number when compared to other domestic animals.
  • Cattle, sheep, goats, cats, and dogs are all born with 13.
  • One of the reasons I believe horses were created to be ridden is because they have such a large rib cage, which allows them to sustain a saddle.
  • The majority of it is made up by the body.
  • The costochondral junction is a lengthy stretch of cartilage that links the femur to the tibia at the bottom.
  • Chondral is a term that refers to cartilage.
  • The cartilages on the first few ribs are significantly shorter, thicker, and heavier than those on the ribs further back in the body, and as a result, they are less flexible.

The head of the rib links at the point where two vertebrae meet, but the tubercle connects higher up on the vertebra on its transverse process, which is a transverse process (which is very much smaller than thetransverse processes on the lumbar vertebrae.).

Please keep in mind that the rib head and tubercle are concealed behind many inches of muscle.

Then the sensation you are experiencing is located a long distance down the body of the rib, and is not associated with the rib heads themselves.

This is a mathematical impossibility.

The first is the shortest in terms of length.

When it comes to shape, the first rib is fairly straight, but the curve increases swiftly from the second to the seventh rib, remains that shape until the sixteenth or seventeenth rib, and then the curvature diminishes on the last few of ribs once again.

The first rib is really angled somewhat forward.

If you make a cross-sectional cut through the horse’s body, the end of the final rib is usually near the level of the L3 vertebra.

Professional anatomical drawings, such as the ones seen above, are often created from actual specimens. Examining the variation in the form of the rib cage between these two figures provides an excellent contrast of the variety of shapes we are attempting to incorporate into our model.

Effect of the rib cage shape on saddle fit

It’s important to remember that we’re not placing the saddle exactly on the ribs. It is supported by the muscle that runs over the rib cage. However, because the bones serve as the basis for the muscles, the structure of the rib cage underneath the muscles has an impact on the characteristics of the tree. One of the factors that influences the spread between the bars is the overall size of the horse, which is measured as the breadth of the rib cage from side to side. The angle of the bars, on the other hand, is dictated by the form of the rib cage underneath it as well as the musculature on top of it.

See also:  How Far Can A Horse Run In A Day? (Solution)

The ones in the photo above that one exit the spine and descend quite swiftly are the ones in the picture above.

So what happens at the bottom of the ribs?

The first eight ribs are joined directly to the sternum by their costal cartilages, which means that those ribs do not have the range of mobility that the other ribs do since they are very strongly connected both top and bottom, as opposed to the others. A curve formed by the final nine or ten ribs’ cartilages is known as the costal arch. It is closely linked to the cartilage of the eighth rib and, consequently, to the sternum by a fibrous band called the costal ligament. A common occurrence in most species is that one or two ribs are found at one or both ends that are not attached to the others by cartilage; these are referred to as “floating ribs.” While they appear to be able to arise in horses, it does not appear that they are particularly prevalent.

  • It is more visible on thinner horses than it is on heavier horses.
  • The sternum is an intriguing structure in and of itself.
  • While some of them fuse together early in childhood, others remain uncalcified even in old age.
  • So, while the sternum is solid – there are no joints – it is not entirely composed of bone, and excessive pressure, such as that applied by a very tight cinch, can be detrimental to it, especially in a young horse.

How the rib cage shape affects cinch position

The cinch will always be applied to the portion of the horse’s body that has the lowest diameter. The underline of the horse’s neck and the form of the side of the rib cage are two factors that contribute to determining where the horse’s lowest circumference is located. if the underline of the horse is relatively flat, the cinch will have no cause to move and will more than likely remain where it was when it was first applied. If the underlining slopes upwards towards the front legs, the cinch will be forced to travel in the forward direction.

  1. For horses with a very round barrel, the narrowest part of the horse’s body is in the front, and the cinch will tend to slip forward as a result.
  2. The cinch will not go forward as readily on horses with more flat-sided shoulders.
  3. The saddle position is determined by the point at which the form of the bars corresponds to the shape of the horse’s spine.
  4. If the horse’s tree is the correct size, the cinch will not pull the saddle out of place or impose excessive strain on the shoulder blades.
  5. As a result, the design of the rib cage has a significant impact on how the saddle performs on the horse.
  6. (1) Much of the anatomical material in this piece, as well as in some prior postings, comes from Sisson and Grossman’s The Anatomy of the Domestic Animals (Sisson and Grossman, 1989).

Robert Getty is the editor of the fifth edition. This is still regarded to be one of the best anatomy textbooks for veterinary students today.


WikipedianProlific uploaded this image of a horse skeleton to Wikimedia Commons under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license. You could be having nightmares of zombie horse hoards traversing your pastures at a full moon, especially with Halloween just a few of weeks away. No? Perhaps you’ve had dreams about all of the carrots you’ve ever sacrificed to your horse’s chompers reappearing and wreaking havoc on your life. Is that true? Although the most frightening aspect of your barn may be the number of stalls you have to clean, here’s a Halloween-themed anatomy lesson for you: your horse’s skeleton is far more interesting than you may imagine.

  • Horses typically have 205 bones in their skeleton, however this can vary depending on the breed. Arabians, for example, may have fewer vertebrae in their spinal column than other breeds. Furthermore, whereas most horses have 18 ribs, certain Arabians may only have 17 ribs due to the shorter thoracic spinal column of some of this breed’s individuals. For all breeds, eight of these ribs are called “genuine ribs,” which means that they entirely link the spinal column to the sternum when the dog stands up. Be a result, the remaining ribs are referred to as “floating” since they do not extend all the way to the sternum.
  • It is really the spiny vertical tops of the thoracic vertebrae that form the withers of your horse’s neck. A horse’s highly muscled back moulds them into the more comfortable saddle-sitting region we are used with on a living horse
  • Nevertheless, on a skeleton, they appear to be long and narrow.
  • The amazing structure of a horse’s hooves is well known to horse enthusiasts: the coffin bone, also known as P3, which is short for the third phalanx, sits inside the hoof capsule, suspended by delicate, Velcro-like soft tissue known as the laminae, which acts as a suspension system. Due to the fact that this coffin bone is synonymous with the tip of a human’s middle finger, your horse is essentially standing on the tip of one toe. When horses evolved, the last vestiges of the remaining “fingers” were long since lost, but the split bones that run parallel to the cannon bone are vestiges of the second and fourth fingers, respectively.
  • Horses do not have a collarbone, commonly known as the clavicle, which is seen in humans.
  • The carpus, or horse’s knee in his front legs, is an analogue to human wrist in that it is located in his front legs. This joint in the horse is made up of two rows of primary bones, each of which has three primary bones. It is understandably complicated. In the carpus, it is possible to find a very little “extra” bone that is present. The presence of this does not serve any function and does not create any issues, although it might be mistaken on an x-ray for a chip fracture.
  • The mention of navicular bones may strike dread into the hearts of horse owners at times. Known as navicular syndrome in horses, this annoying tiny bone hidden deep within the hoof beneath the coffin bone is responsible for a painful and possibly career-ending disease known as navicular syndrome. However, the name “navicular” does not refer to a boat-shaped structure
  • Rather, it refers to the concave surface of the human navicular bone, which is jammed in the foot just in front of the ankle. A sesamoid bone, similar to the little bones that sit beneath our toes at the balls of our feet in humans, replaces the navicular bone in horses, which is located in a different position and is truly a sesamoid bone.
  • Last but not least, this is no laughing issue. While it is often heatedly disputed in barns throughout the country, the research simply does not support it: horses do not have a sense of humor
  • Horses do not have a sense of humor
  • Horses do not have a sense of humor.

Do Arabian Horses Have One Less Rib and Vertebrae?

Born in the Middle East, Arabian horses are noted for their muscular physique and specific genetic features. However, the Arabian Horse’s skeleton differs from that of other horses. So, do Arabian horses have one rib less than other horses? The majority of Arabian horses are born with one less rib, one fewer lumbar vertebrae, and one fewer tail bone. Arabian horses have 17 ribs, rather than the customary 18 ribs found in other horse breeds, which makes them unique. The lesser lengths are due to the skeletal differences between the two species.

Here’s the thing: despite the fact that Arabian Horses have weaker bones than other horse breeds, this gorgeous breed has won admiration from people all over the world.

The Arabian Horse Skeleton

Horses of the Arabian breed are distinct from other horse breeds in that they have a distinctive head form, skeletal structure, and overall size. Here’s how it works: The Arabian has 17 ribs, 5 lumbar vertebrae bones, and 16 tail vertebrae on average, according to the breed standard. Horses have a total of how many ribs? Horses with 18 ribs, 6 lumbar bones, and 17 or 18 tail vertebrae are considered normal. Arabian horses have an extremely high bone density, which helps them to maintain their robustness and manly temperament as they get older.

  • This also has the additional effect of flattening the Arabian’s back, which results in a high carriage of the tail.
  • This is why they were once the primary mode of transportation for Arabs thousands of years ago.
  • A number of people have asked me, “Why do Arabian horses have dished faces?” I’ve answered them all.
  • Arabian horses have a distinctive dished face, which compliments their enormous, wide-set eyes and broad nostrils, as well as their large, wide-set eyes.
  • Arabs have a more compact physique than other horse breeds, and they have a strong back and robust hoof walls in comparison to other horse breeds.
  • The reason for this is that Arabian horses have won the Tevis Cup an astounding 85 percent of the time!
  • The combination of these few genetic characteristics allows them to rank among the top horse breeds for a wide range of applications such as racing, jumping, and other horse-related activities.

Racing is one of the most prevalent applications for an Arabian, and the breed is particularly good at it. An Arabian horse possesses the following characteristics:

  • Arched neck, broad chest, and strong, short back are all characteristics of a person with chiseled bone structure.

Do Lesser Ribs Cause Breathing Problems in Arabian Horses?

Consider the following question:Does an Arabian horse’s disheveled face and fewer ribs cause breathing issues for him? The answer to this question is a short and straightforward no. During their tenure on our planet, Arabians have undergone significant changes. People wanted horses with a lot more disheveled face, which they were able to obtain through selective breeding. This unusual and interesting nasal bone structure does not cause any breathing difficulties for Arabian horses; rather, it enhances their appearance and distinguishes them from other horse breeds.

Size and Colors of an Arabian Horse

Arab horses are often lower in stature than other equestrian breeds, owing to the unique skeletal structure of the Arabian horse. The majority of adult Arabians stand between 57 and 61 inches tall, or 14 and 15 hands. When measured at the shoulder or withers, the average Arabian Horse stands 14 to 15 hands tall and weighs between 800 and 1,000 pounds. Now: Despite the fact that their heights are normally within the range of ponies, Arabians are still considered to be horses by the majority of people.

Arabians also have distinctive white markings on their legs, as well as stockings or socks on their feet.

Because of the long-term exposure to the sun in the desert, the dark pigmentation on the Arabians’ skin actually assisted them in maintaining their skin’s health and protecting their health as well.

Other Health Concerns in Arabian Horses

The following question could occur to you: Does the absence of a few bones have an impact on the performance or health of an Arabian horse? It’s safe to assume that the answer is no. Despite the absence of a few bones, Arabian Horses have a far higher bone density than other horse breeds, making them one of the most powerful horse breeds to have ever existed. Yes, the Arabian horse, like any other horse breed, is prone to hereditary health issues, just as any other horse breed is. However, the majority of them are just the result of aging and other comparable circumstances.

The incidence of unsoundness or lameness problems in these animals is also relatively low in most of them.

Arabian Horse Breeding

For hundreds of years, the Arabian Horse has been crossed with a variety of different horse breeds. The lineages of Arabian horses are responsible for the creation and development of the majority of current light horse breeds, including the Thoroughbred, Orlov Trotter, American Saddlebred, American Quarter Horse, and many others. The Thoroughbred is the most famous of them. The goal of cross-breeding the Arabian and other horse breeds is to improve the agility, endurance, and intelligence of the other breeds while also adding refinement and beauty to the Arabian.

Throughout addition to the breeds that are accessible across the United States, the Polish Arabian, Egyptian Arabian, and a variety of additional varieties may be found in the Middle East and European countries.

Despite the fact that they have been able to absorb much of the genetic makeup of the Arabians, they are far bigger and taller than the Arabians, and their bones are significantly thicker.

Related Questions

How long can Arabian horses go without water before they become dehydrated? An adult Arabian horse can survive without water for up to 72 hours on average. Arabians have been raised for centuries by the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula to be war horses and to be able to journey for greater distances in the harsh surroundings of the desert. After a period of time, they were able to adapt to their current situation and evolve into individuals with greater endurance and lung capacity. What is the appearance of Arabian horses?

Some of the most recognizable characteristics of an Arabian horse include its finely chiseled bone structure, short back, deep chest, long arched neck, and high tail carriage.

Because of their distinctive skeletal structure, Arabians are often shorter in stature and have a more compact physique.

Various Other Sources

  • When it comes to Arabian horses, why do they have fewer ribs, and why do they have one fewer vertebra? Everything you need to know about Arabian horses

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