Monday, January 25, 2010

Advanced Anatomy: Review

What are smooth muscles used for?

Which muscles manipulate the shoulder?

Can you correctly identify the muscles labeled on this chart? Explain what 3 of them do.


Advanced Anatomy: Superficial Muscles

So once you have a grasp of parts and skeletal structure, the next piece is the superficial muscles. Unfortunately this is pretty well brute memorization; we'll have something more fun next week! In the interim, it's much easier to remember if you think about what the muscles do as much as what they are called.

Some basic terminology as far as what muscles do:

Adduct - move towards the midline
Abduct - move away from the midline
Muscles are divided into three groups:
Cardiac - in the heart
Smooth - in autonomic systems (ie the digestive tract)
Skeletal - used to move bones (usually in pairs)
For today's Theory Thursday we'll be focusing on the superficial skeletal muscles. This diagram comes from the Horse Anatomy Colouring Atlas.

1 - Superior labial levator
2 - Canine
3 - Nasolabial levator
4 - Masseter: large muscles of the jowl, used in chewing
5 - Sternomandibular: incline head and neck (alone), flex head (together); hence why it is easier to keep your horse round when he's flexed.
6 - Cervical cutaneous
7 - Brachiocephalic: long muscle from the poll to the upper arm. It pulls the limb forward, extends the shoulder, and bends the head and neck
8 - Splenius: muscles at the top of neck running to the shoulder blade. Responsible for lifting the head, pulling the scapula forward and up, bend neck
9 - Cervical ventral serrated
10 - Thoracic ventral serrated
11, 12 - Cervical and Thoracic Trapezius: muscles at the top of the neck and behind the withers. Pulls the should forward (cervical), back (thoracic) and up (together). Carries the saddle.
13 - Subclavian
14 - Deltoid: flexes shoulder, abducts limb.
15 - Latissimus dorsi: muscle running along back and down the barrel to the back of the shoulder blade. Supports the saddle, pulls humerus up and back. Flexes shoulder.
16 - Descending pectoral: advance limb
17 - Brachial triceps: large muscle from elbow to bottom of should blade. Extends elbow and foreleg.
18 - Ascending pectoral - adduct and retract limb
19 - Carpal and digital extensor - muscles of forearm that extend leg; flex elbow

So if the extensor muscles extend the list the flexor muscles . . . ? - comeon, wild guess here.... That's right, flexor muscles flex the leg.
Extensor muscles on the front of the leg to pull it forwards, flexor muscles on the back to bring it back.

20 - External obdominal oblique - support and compress abdominal content
21 - Tensor of the fascia lata
22 - Superficial gluteal - flexes hip
23 - Femoral biceps - extend hip, stifle, hock
24 - Semitendinous - extend hip and hock
25 - Digital extensor
(which does.... what? Extend the digit perhaps?)


Intermediate Anatomy: Review

What is the Axial skeleton responsible for and what bones are included in it?

How many lumbar vertebrae are there?

What is the skeleton responsible for locomotion called?

What was Lauren's least favourite subject in University? (points for math, bonus points if you know enough to know that despite my evident lack of counting ability, the only math that was truly beyond me was calculus :)

How many sets of ribs are there? What's the difference between true and false ribs? How many are there?

What bones are entirely in the hoof?

Label the diagram -- correctly please!


Intermediate Anatomy: Skeleton

You're in a dressage lesson and your coach tells you your horse is bending at the third vertebrae. Do you smile and thank her celebrating because it's finally working after months of effort? Or do mutter "yeah I know" under your breath while surreptitiously trying to fix it before she has to tell you *again*? To answer that question you need to know two things: the basic skeleton of the horse, and dressage theory 101. We only have time for the skeleton today -- dressage theory will be another Thursday, so for now I'll just tell you you're probably not celebrating. Perhaps, once you know the skeleton, you'll be able to figure out why.

Unfortunately the diagram was way to crowded with labels, so had to go with numbers. It's all good though cause now I have all the room in the world for explanations!

First of all, the skeleton (205 bones total -- I'm only expecting you to remember 29 -- aren't you lucky!) is divided into two groups:

The Axial Skeleton - which gives the horse its shape
The Appendicular Skeleton - which is the basis for locomotion.
Take a look at the skeleton and see if you can ascertain which numbers fall into which group. Yes of course I'll tell you eventually, but you're more likely to remember if you at least try to think of it yourself first!

1 - Skull (houses a fist-sized brain. This one should be a gimmie... Alas, poor Yorick... Imagine how different that scene would be with this skull!)
2 - Mandible (basically the jaw -- slightly bigger than yours, but same concept!)

Numbers 3-7 comprise the vertebral column. But some sections have more flexibility than others so it's important to know how they divide up. Also, anybody taking riding or PC tests I would be willing to wager it will eventually be a test question. Examiners love it.

3 - Cervical Vertebrae (7)
4 - Thoracic Vertebrae (18)
5 - Lumbar Vertebrae (6)
6 - Sacral (5) -- not sacred as I once saw on a test!
7 - Caudal Vertebrae (15-21)
8 - Ribs. 18 pairs of them to be precise. And just to complicate things, there are 8 "true" pairs and 10 "false". The true ribs are attached to the sternum while the false are not. I remember that from my once rather cynical viewpoint that there are more false people in the world than true... Sad, but true? Either way I never have to look it up.
9 - Sternum

You are now at the end of the Axial Skeleton. Were you right? Did you even think about it at all? If so, congrats! You're in the minority :) And we all know that's where the kewl kids hang out!

So if the Axial Skeleton is comprised of all that is above, it follows that all below will be the Appendicular Skeleton.

10 - Humerus (points to the elbow. Funny bone anybody?)
11 - Scapula
12 - Ulna
13 - Radius (again following basic human anatomy of the arms)
14 - Carpal bones (7 or 8 of them)
15 - Metacarpal bones (3 of them -- more commonly known as the cannon bone and 2 splint bones)
16 - P1 (aka first phalanx)
17 - P2 (aka 2nd or middle phalanx)
18 - take a guess, I dare ya >;-P Yes indeed, it's P3 (aka any of: third phalanx, coffin bone, pedal bone ) This bone is entirely in the hoof along with the navicular bone and P2.
19 - anywhere??? oh my I appear to have lost 19. It's a sad, sad day in the world of Theory Thursdays. I evidently can't count to 20, but I can ride a horse *really* well >;-P On the plus side, it's one less bone for you to memorize. Woohoo! Maybe we can pretend Navicular was 19. The arrow would be pointing to the other side of the hoof from 18.
20 - Sesamoid bones (x 2)

21 through 23 are all really fused together to form the hip. But that's another of those silly exam questions people love so just-in-case, I've included them anyway (after all, have to make up for the missing 19!)

21 - Ilium
22 - Pubis
23 - Ischium
24 - Femur (so now we're doing the legs)
25 - Patella
26 - Fibula
27 - Tibia
28 - Tarsal bones (6)
29 - Metatarsal bones (3) - again with the cannon and 2 splints.

Et al - all the various Px of the hindleg are the same as the front leg, so I'm going to be kind and only have you memorize them once :) You're welcome!

Now that you know all that, what's the point? The skeleton has several functions:
  • provide rigidity and form
  • provide protection to vital organs
  • facilitate movement
  • allow locomotion to take place

Well now that was fun and exciting wasn't it?


Beginner Anatomy: Review

So how many knees does your horse have?

What does FPC stand for?

What's the name of my very patient model horse? I'll give you a hint -- it means Theory in Galician (hey, I never claimed it'd be a *useful* hint!) . Yes it's a silly question, but it does show whether or not you were paying attention. What else might you have missed?

Can you identify the numbered parts of these diagrams?

Now, if you've got the hang of the diagrams, go try it on a real horse. With the sole exception being the "white line" (which is where again?) you should be able to find every part. Be aware that some horses have little to nonexistent chestnuts.

Beginner Anatomy: Basic Parts

How many knees does your horse have?

If I ask you to watch his flank, where are you looking and what are you probably checking for?

If I tell you his poll is too low, what does that mean?

These are all very simple questions that any rider should be able to answer, but to do so you'd need at least a basic understanding of anatomy. Alas this is one of the more brutal theory lessons because it's *yawn* boring! When I teach it in the barn it involves a very patient horse, some taped labels, and lots of laughs. Online that's unfortunately less of an option, so we're left with the old-fashioned diagram route.

Let me introduce the ever patient Teoria:

Now already you know that Teoria has two knees; the joints in a similar location on her hind legs are the hocks.

If her poll is too low, her head is down.

And if you're watching her flank, you're probably checking to see how fast she's breathing (aka his respiration rate -- but that's for another day). It's kinda hard to tell from this diagram (I never claimed to be an artist!) but it's the area where the hair grows backwards.

Feel smarter yet? You should!

Now some things to make some of these easier to remember.

Between the forearm and the shoulder is the elbow -- just like on your own body. Easy!

The barrel, on some ponies I've met, seriously resembles a barrel!

The chestnut is an interesting creation; nobody knows exactly what it is, although theories abound. The one I hear most commonly is it's a Darwinian leftover; that is, once upon a time, before horses evolved into the creatures we know today (another Thursday Theory lesson), they had three toes. Legend has it that the chestnut is the remnant of an early equine toe-nail. As to the toes themselves? By the same theory, they became the splint bones (see intermediate anatomy). Huh!

The fetlock, pastern, and coronet, all being rather random names close together near the hoof, often get mixed up in order. The fetlock -- the joint which allows the foot to move, the pastern which gives you some idea how much spring will be in the gait, and the coronet which connects the hoof to the leg. But how to remember which is which? Well, you remember Cinderella? Sure you do. Well she had a long wait before Prince Charming finally smartened up enough to find her, and when he did she could say: "Finally, Prince Charming!". FPC. Or Fetlock, Pastern, Coronet. Yeah I know it's silly, but you're not likely to ever forget it now are you?

Critical to your horse's well being is their hoof. "No hoof, no horse." It's an ancient saying that's stood the test of time because it's well... true! How many of you have missed a ride simply because your horse pulled a shoe? Such a little thing, but a critical one. And so we have Teoria's hoof:

So the triangle part that's a little more sensitive than the rest is the Frog -- but don't bother kissing it, Prince Charming's already taken (see above). Note I hereby reserve the right to mix my fairy tales! The frog is critical to blood circulation -- it houses the pump that gets the blood to go back up out of the foot into the rest of the body. Every time the horse steps down, the pump is activated. So when we put shoes on them, do you think the frog should still touch the ground? Of course! But that's one of those tiny but critical things that might not occur to you till it was too late if you didn't know your theory...

The white line is literally a white line (all the creative part names were taken). If you see a barefoot horse who has just had their feet trimmed, you can see it. Very kewl.

The bars are on either side of the frog; the wall, made of material similar to your fingernails, is on the outside, and the sole (not the soul -- that's a religious debate I'm not qualified to lead!) is the rest. It should be long and slightly concave and tends not to be overly sensitive but can certainly still be bruised (again leading to unsound horse. No hoof, no horse) so don't be too harsh with that hoof pick of yours!

So now you know the basic parts of the horse! Congratulations! That puts you one huge step closer to being a horse-person rather than just a rider :) But how much did you remember?


Introducing Theory Thursdays!

So Theory Thursdays is beginning! This section of the website was born out of the realization that too many riders learn to ride in a school scenario; they show up, tack up their horse, ride, and put the horse away again. Everything from which horse the ride to what they do while they're riding is dictated for them. Many of these students never have the opportunity to learn even the most basic horsemanship skills (what does that horse eat?). And if they then, being reasonably competent riders, go out and purchase their own horses, they are completely unprepared for the responsibility.

As my regular students know, I smuggle theory into my lessons on a fairly regular basis, and I fully expect them to think about what they're doing and why. But I've discovered not everybody has a coach who does that, and I can't teach nearly as much theory in a lesson as I might like since I have to also teach you how to *ride* somewhere in there, so this is the compromise.

Now, every Thursday, a new theory lesson will be posted. Where appropriate, the content will be divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced levels. We will cover a wide range of general knowledge, horse care, stable management, and riding theory with the syllabus drawing liberally from the Pony Club and EC Rider Level curriculum.

Writing style will be that of my blogs... Which is to say long and somewhat random :) But hopefully informative!

Enjoy! As always, comments very welcome!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Theory Thursdays

So I have discovered that many of my students while turning into decent riders, have a really disturbing lack of knowledge about those wonderful animals they claim to love. Like not even D level pony club knowledge. This particularly worries me as experience has shown me that good riders who are not good horse people tend to lead to disastrous consequences. Things like "training" a horse through punishment due to lack of understanding of their natural responses, or causing a horse to tie up from being put away too hot because they don't understand why it's critical to cool them out, or having their horse go permanently lame due to not recognizing poor shoeing, etc etc etc. Bad - very bad.

Now I regularly "slip" theory into my lessons (in the same way my hs english prof used to smuggle in grammar even though she wasn't allowed to teach it :) and I have to admit, my students not only refrain from rolling their eyes, they actually seem to make a genuine effort to learn it. I've decided to assist that with once a week online theory. Over time will cover the Pony Club and Rider Level curriculum as well as some random things that I feel should be covered :) Theoretically anyways. But we're gonna start with the real basics cause really it's very sad the level of knowledge I'm seeing... This'll end up on the GRS blog methinks :) Since Friday is Flash Fiction Friday, I'm thinking Thursdays can be Theory Thursdays. Cause you know, I have time for another writing project; really I do.