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12 Days of Christmas - Day 8: Anatomy fun

Updated: Jun 5

Equine anatomy is a fascinating - if a little complex subject but if you're keen to start your journey and improve your knowledge, these two poster books are a great introduction to this subject.

At first glance you may think that these books are just structures labelled up on pictures but they are so much more than that – there’s a great amount of detail in each image together with bite-size pieces of information to help your learning.

These books are a fantastic learning resource so if you're wanting to learn the names of the structures these will really help you. Volume 1 covers the musculoskeletal system and Volume 2 is the internal organs.

gillian higgins horses inside out cover photograph anatomy poster book

“I love the painting of the Dermatomes in volume 2,” explains Gillian. “This was done using chalk rather than paint, which is a little unusual, but this one also makes me smile. As you know we lost Freddie earlier this year and it’s memories like this that remind me how Freddie really was and will continue to be the face of Horses Inside Out. When I look at this picture, I think of Freddie wearing his pyjamas!”

Understanding Dermatomes

A dermatome is a surface area of the body served by a specific nerve or group of nerves – this image is like a map of the dermatomes in your horse’s body. We have dermatome maps for people as well. But what are dermatones and why are they important?

“Let’s think about this in humans first. If you have a tingling in your ring finger, it may not be your finger that's injured the sensation could actually be coming from your eighth cervical nerve, which is right at the bottom of your neck. This is quite useful in terms of understanding your body and the nervous system. Essentially, the cause, and the place where the symptoms are, aren't necessarily in the same place.

Applying this to horses is a little tricky but there are still things that you can look out for - such as seeing a change in the quality of the skin, sweat patches, and most interestingly, when you get a really localised area of muscle atrophy - of course it could be there's nerve damage to that area, but it could also be coming from further away. This is all really interesting but as I'm sure you can see, it can sometimes make diagnosing a problem challenging.

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