William H. (William Harding) Carter.

Horses, saddles and bridles online

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Stifle joint.

Leg bone or tibia.

Point of hock.

Hock joint.

Head of small metatarsal bone.

Cannon or metatarsal bone.

Coffin bone.

Fetlock joint.

Patella, or stifle.




Figure 2 shows the exterior muscles of the horse as they appear
with the skin of the animal removed. Some of the deep-seated
and powerful locomotive muscles are not shown, and the one over
the ribs is omitted. The names of the muscles are all of a

Figure 2. Superior Muscles of the Horse.

technical character to indicate location, or action, and are omitted
because knowledge of them is only necessary for a scientific study
of the physiology of the horse.


The principal muscle for consideration in the figure is the long
muscle, or system of muscles of the back. It fills the angular
space on each side of the spinous processes, giving roundness to
the back. It is very broad and thick over the loins, and in addition
to other connections, it is strongly attached to the hip bone. It is
attached forward to all the spines of the vertebrae, as far as the
neck, and to a strong tendon-like membrane that is firmly fastened
to the same bones. Special interest attaches to this muscle and
tendon, because the saddle must rest upon it in such a way as not
to interfere with the muscular action of the fore and hind qiiarters.

Figure 3 is numbered so as to locate the external regions of the
horse. It is absolutely necessary to commit to memory this
nomenclature in order to describe horses as well as to understand
what is referred to by others when mentioning the parts.

The nomenclature of these parts is given, as far as possible, in
plain language, but some technical names are used because there
are no popular names for the parts thus mentioned.

If many horses are to be examined, copious notes should be
retained by the inspecting officer for self-protection, and every
horse passed should be branded with a number on the hoof for
identification on the descriptive list, and also have the brand
common to all public animals put on in the presence of the inspec-
tors at the close of each day's work. The descriptive lists should
be prepared without delay and should be an accurate transcription
from the notes made as each horse is branded.



/■ vC»v;*:tii :i

Figure 3. External Regions of the Horse.

Nomenclature of the External

1. Lips.

2. Nose.

3. Face.

4. Forehead.

5. Eyebrows.

6. Forelock.

7. Ears.

8. Lower jaw.

9. Cheek.

10. Nostril.

11. Poll.
11^ Throat.

12. Parotid


13. Neck.













Regions of th


and arm.
Cannon or

Fetlock joint

e Horse.

40. Thigh.

41. Stifle.

42. Buttock.

43. Gaskin.

44. Hock.

45. Chestnut.

46. Cannon or

47. Fetlock joint.
. 48. Fetlock.

49. Pastern.

50. Coronet.

51. Foot.


Descriptive lists of public animals should set forth the age, sex,
color, distinguishing marks, the weight when specified in the
contract, and all blemishes which include saddle and collar marks,
wire cuts, scars, splints, and abnormal enlargements. Distin-
guishing marks include, ordinarily, the " star," a white spot on the
forehead ; the *' blaze," a white stripe running down the face to
the lips ; the '' snip," a white streak or spot on the lower part of
the face near the nostrils ; " stockings," as w^hite legs on other than
grey horses are called ; " white feet," which covers those cases
where the white does not extend above the fetlock ; color of mane
and tail, designated '' black points," " silver," or whatever color
exists different from that of the animal. Where the color of the
mane and tail is the same as that of the animal, it may be entered
as " self color," or by citing the actual color.

It may happen at times that officers will be called upon to
examine horses without the assistance of a veterinary surgeon.
The " examination for soundness " and the chapter on the more
common diseases and injuries will give sufficient knowledge to
conduct fairly well the examination for soundness, provided the
information contained therein is systematically applied to the cases
available for observation in service from day to day.

It is usually quite easy for an experienced inspector to deter-
mine generally whether a horse is in good health or the contrary.
In health the attitudes assumed when standing are easy and
natural ; the coat is lustrous ; in motion the gaits are regular and
active ; the head is carried rather high than low ; respiration is full
and calm.

A sick horse, or one sufifering from injury, shows something
is wrong by his unnatural attitudes ; dull coat ; inattention ; hang-



ing of the head ; manner of changing positions ; irregularity of and
halting manner in executing the gaits ; in some cases very listless
and indifferent, in others uneasy. If lame from a wound or bruise
he will endeavor to ease up on the leg affected. In fact the horse
will show in a great many ways that something is wrong.

Figure 4.
Pointing a Toe,

Figure 5.
Pointing a Toe.

If unable to decide upon any question arising during the exami-
nation, the government should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Whenever possible to see animals in their own stalls, it should
be observed whether or not they kick, which. may usually be dis-
covered by shoe scars on the heel posts and sides of the stall ; or
if they crib, a term used to describe the gnawing of the wood
work about the mangers and feed boxes.



If a horse points a toe, or shows other signs of weakness or
lameness, it can be more easily discovered at this time than when
crowded in public stables or sheds with large numbers of other
horses. By " pointing a toe " is meant the act of resting a fore
foot on its toe, or holding a fore foot forward to remove the
weight of the body from it (figures 4, 5, and 6).

A sound horse shifts his weight, to rest,
from one hind foot to the other, but rarely
does this with his fore feet. It may be ac-
cepted as an almost invariable rule that a
horse never tries to rest a fore foot unless
there is lameness or disease. Lameness may
arise from having been recently pricked in
shoeing, but under no conditions should a
horse be passed for cavalry service which, at
the time of inspection, does not stand
squarely upon both fore feet.

Few of the stable vices can be cured, and
unless horses are badly needed for im-
mediate field service, animals known to
have them should be rejected. Some stable
vices may be acquired from other horses,
and it is therefore very desirable to avoid in-
troducing into cavalry stables animals which may spoil others com-
pelled to stand near them. In addition to kicking and cribbing,
which are about the worst habits a troop horse can have, may be
mentioned weaving or the swaying motion so common to caged
animals, continued pawing, pulling back when tied, biting, and
wind sucking. The wind sucker takes hold of the wood work,


Figure 6.
Pointing a Toe.



picket line, or halter strap, arches his neck and draws back with a
grunting noise (figure 7).

The line of demarcation between blemishes and defects is some-
times very dim. Under the first named come all abnormal
conditions of the various parts of the horse which do not affect

Figure 7. Wind Sucker.

his serviceability, such as scars and splints so placed as to be of no

Under the head of defects come pegged splints and those very
close to the knees, ring bones, side bones, false quarter, quarter
cracks, sit-fasts, and any trouble, local or constitutional, which
may tend to shorten or render unsatisfactory the service of the
animal. These will all be treated in detail later for the guidance


of the inspector, as well as with a view to amelioration and cure
when they occur in animals already purchased.

In considering the subject generally veterinarians have arrived
at the conclusion that many forms of diseases of the horse may be
acquired through heredity. This is true in a sense, but in most
cases the parts played by sires and dams relate only to conforma-
tion. If that be not good many abnormal conditions may follow,
for undoubtedly horses of faulty conformation are more prone
to certain forms of disease than are horses of good conformation.

Horses should be examined, if possible, in the open air. When
this is not practicable, an open passageway or shed should be
selected, where plenty of light may be had. When the horse is led
out, he should be examined in profile from in front and behind,
from the right and left, and obliquely forward and backward,
careful attention being given to his temperament and attitudes in
the meantime.

View the horse in all possible aspects, to determine the general
harmony of his whole conformation. View the formation of the
feet and legs separately and in pairs ; the shape, expression, and
size of the head generally and in detail ; the shape of the back and
withers, with reference to carrying a saddle.

In the general observation of the horse, the eye should be
trained to note quickly whether the forehand and hindhand bear
proper relation to each other as to weight ; whether the abdomen
is so shaped as to hold the saddle by means of the cinch alone —
breast straps are not issued for cavalry horses — ; whether the
legs are strong enough for the combined weight of the horse and
trooper with his equipment ; whether the head and neck are of the



character likely to respond readily to the rider's hand (figures 8,
9, lo and ii).

Figure 8. Saddle Gelding " Comus." Winner of many first prizes in
saddle and high school classes. Denmark blood. Good model.

The examination should be made on unshod horses, but if
animals are presented shod, special attention is necessary to see
if shoes have been put on for the purpose of correcting defects.



A good horse is one with many good, few indifferent, and no
really bad points. One radically bad point neutralizes any number
of good ones. Excess of power or development in one part of a

Figure 9. Saddle Gelding " Highland." Denmark blood. Good model.

horse may not only be useless, because the strength of the animal
is limited by the weakest point, but it may be a positive source of
evil. For example, a strong, powerful forehand is not an advan-
tage if the hind quarters are light, because the strain on the hind
legs will be unduly great. Similarly, if the fore legs are weak



they may suffer from excessive propulsion communicated by
powerful hind quarters, whilst they might have lasted a long time
if all were proportionately developed. In a well-formed horse

Figure lo. Thoroughbred Mare " Blue Girl." A typical race horse.

there should be no weak point, and no part with excessive
development, as compared to the other (figures 8, 9, 10 and 11).

Outward forms are mainly dependent on the formation of the
bony skeleton. In a well-bred horse the tendons, ligaments, and



muscles are generally in keeping with the bones ; that is, large
bones usually give attachment to large, powerful muscles, tendons,
etc. The processes of the bones are better developed, and give a

Figure 11. Fine type of Arab saddle horse of famous family.

greater mechanical advantage to the muscles than in the case of
common country horses. Without good structural formation
strength will not be found, and even with it, all the desirable
qualities should not be expected.


The power of a horse increases with his size, provided the rela-
tive proportion of the parts and the general compactness are
maintained. This, however, is rarely the case. There is a
certain size beyond which the parts do not seem to grow in due
proportion to each other. Very large horses are seldom fit for
saddle purposes ; on the contrary ponies are often great weight

There are some relations between parts of the horse which it is
well to consider as an aid in training the eye. In this way it may
be decided at a glance if a horse approaches the average form
accepted as most suitable for service.

The horse shown in figure 12 has a well-earned reputation as a
weight carrier and long distance cavalry horse.*

The position is not constrained ; it is the natural and free
position assumed by the horse without assistance or interference.
It will be observed that the frontal line of the head is nearly or
quite parallel to the slope of the shoulders. Taking the head,
measured from the poll to the extremity of the upper lip, as a unit,

*The horse, " Deadwood," pictured in figure 12, was purchased at five
years of age, and after eight years of service, although very fat, appeared
perfectly sound and moved at a walk, trot and gallop without stiffness
or peculiarities of gaits.

He was ridden by the orderly for the quartermaster of the Eighth
Cavalry on the march from Fort Davis, Texas, to Fort Meade, South
Dakota, in 1887, a distance of about nineteen hundred miles. As the
orderly accompanied the quartermaster in looking for camping ground,
purchasing forage, and riding back and forth to the wagon train, it is a
low estimate to place the distance covered by this animal at twenty-five
hundred miles. He has performed duty in field and garrison and won new
laurels for hard service in the Philippines ; he has undoubtedly been enabled
to do this because his form is so v;ell adapted to the weight-carrying re-
quirements of cavalry service.



it will be found to enter as a factor quite accurately into several
important measurements. The head should be measured as a
shoemaker does the foot, and not with a tape-line.

This length of the head AB is almost exactly equal to the
distance: i. From the top of the withers to the point of the

Figure 12. Relative Proportions.

shoulder CD; 2. From the lowest point of the back to the
abdomen EF ; 3. From the point of the stifle to the point of the
hock //; 4. From the point of the hock to the lower line of the
hoof JK; 5. From the shoulder blade to the point of the haunch


Two and one-half times the head gives: i. The height of the
withers C above the ground ; 2. The height of the top of the
croup above the ground ; 3. Very nearly the length from point of
the shoulder to point of buttock DH.

Do not expect every horse to fill these conditions, but remember
that a small fraction of the length of the head added to his height
or length, will at once give the animal an abnormal appearance.
The length or height of a horse will seldom, if ever, equal three
head lengths. Perfection of form is usually found to a greater
extent in horses under fifteen-and-a-half hands high, than in those
of greater height.

If proportions are satisfactory, examine the muscles in a general
way to form an estimate as to the probable endurance of the
animal. Firm, dense, compact, and clearly defined muscles are
requisite for weight carriers.

The examination should next take a more detailed character,
remembering always, that although racehorses may run and win
in all forms, cavalry service demands a marked degree of uni-
formity of conformation, and the higher the grade of excellence
secured the more economical and enduring will be the results.

Before proceeding with the examination, the age and height of
the animal should be ascertained, to determine whether these come
within the limits specified in each contract or letter of instructions.
In making the detailed inspection it is customary to begin with the

The Head. — The head should be small and well set on the neck ;
ears small, thin, and erect ; forehead broad and face straight ; eyes
large, prominent, mild in expression, and with fine eyelids ; vision
perfect ; lips thin and firmly compressed ; nostrils large and open ;
the branches of the lower jaw wide apart where the head is
attached to the neck.



When carefully observed, a great variation is seen to exist in the
size and shape of the heads of horses. A wide forehead is nearly
always accompanied by large nostrils, well situated eyes, ears
small and widely separated, distance from the eye to the angle of
the jaw great, large space under and between the jaws, head short
and not of great volume. On the contrary, a narrow forehead
is accompanied generally by small nostrils, eyes but partly open
and appearing small, ears large and close together, and with but

Figure 13. Roman Nose.

Figure 14. Straight Face. Fine Head.

small space under and between the jaws. The head first described
is the one best adapted to the saddle horse, for the second or coarse
head acts like a heavy weight at the end of a long lever, bringing
forward the center of gravity, and making the horse heavy in

The frontal line of the head may be convex, making a " Roman
nose" (figure 13); straight, which is the usual and best form
(figure 14); or concave, making a *' dish face" (figure 15).



Many excellent horses are found with " Roman noses," although
this class usually has a reputation for being heavy in hand and
sometimes headstrong.

The nostrils should be large, and occupy nearly the whole of the
lower part of the facial structure, because the horse breathes

Figure 15. Dish-Faced.

entirely through his nostrils, and not partially through his mouth
as man does. The lower part of the head, including the nostrils
and lips, are commonly spoken of as the muzzle.

The ears should be delicate and pointed, and should move back-
ward and forward with a quick, firm motion, without the least
appearance of flabbiness. The temper of the horse may be judged
somewhat by the eyes and ears.


Figures 14 and 16 represent two entirely different types of good
heads. The first is the head of a very fine saddle animal, charac-
terized by docility and intelligence, and perfection as to gaits.
The second has an unusual depth from the e}'e to the point of the
jaw, and the depression in the frontal line known as " dish-faced."
' The Neck. — The neck should be of medium size and moderate
length, tapering toward the head, with its upper border or crest
longer than the under side, and with mane intact and fine.

Figure 16. A Good Head, with slight " Dish Face."

The neck should be examined as to its form, carriage, and mode
of attachment to the head. The neck is called straight when its
borders are rectilinear (figure 17) ; arched, when its upper border
is more or less convex throughout (figure 18) ; ewe-necked, when
its upper border is concave (figure 20).

The long neck accords well with extreme speed, the short neck
w^ith power, and the medium neck for all around saddle purposes,
and in which class there is a wide range of intermediate forms.
A'ery long necks are too mobile, while very short ones are not
supple enough. Ytvy long necks also have the disadvantage of



over-weighting the forehand of cavalry horses by bringing for-
ward the center of sfravitv. The volume of the neck should not
be too large. A fine, silky mane characterizes a well-bred horse ;
and a coarse, long, and stiff mane usually denotes a common horse.

Figure 17. Standard Bred Morgan Mare. Straight neck and back;

low withers.

The Withers. — The withers comprise the region between the
shoulders in front of the back, and should be elevated but not high
and thin. As many of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons which
control the motion of the forehand are attached here, some degree
of elevation is necessary in order to afford good leverage, as well
as to give due length to the shoulder (figure 18).



Elevated withers are usually accompanied by long, sloping
shoulders and a rather deep chest. Horses with very high

Figure 18. Good Head, Neck, Shoulders, and Fore Legs.
Proper Elevation of Withers.

withers, while pleasant to ride, are unsuited for hard service with
packed saddles. High, thin withers are usually accompanied by
flat muscles about and in rear of the shoulder blade, where the



front end of the side bar.s of military saddles are intended to rest;
this flatness allows the saddle to slip unduly forward, which is
very objectionable (figure 19).

Figure 19. This Troop Horse was possessed of a good carriage until
completely broken down; is a good example of overlooking grave defects
because of one or two good points ; high, thin withers ; deficient back and
loin muscles; "tucked up" abdomen; "tied in" below knees; insufficient
bone in legs.

Horses with low withers, not well defined or outlined, are not
suited for heavy, packed saddles, because such a formation permits
the saddle to slip forward and bruise the parts near the top of the




shoulder blade, and this displacement also causes sores to be made
by the cinch close to the fore legs (figure 17) .

The Shoulders. — The shoulder of the saddle horse should be
sloping, well muscled, and comparatively long (figures 8, 9, 10, 11

Figure 20. Ewe Neck ; Excessively High Withers.

and 18). If the shoulder blade is long, broad, and well sloped, the
saddle will sit properly in its place ; while if short and upright, the
saddle will have a tendency to work forward on the withers.
Upright or straight shoulders are very undesirable in saddle
horses, although perfectly suitable for purposes of draught. Un-


due thickness through the shoulders increases the weight of the
forehand, and consequent wear on the fore legs, without any
compensating advantages in the case of a saddle horse.

While all authorities agree that a sloping shoulder is essen-
tial in a good saddle horse, and many speak of it in an off-
hand way, it will be found most puzzling to determine exactly
how to class shoulders in fat horses.

If the shoulder is straight, and the horse be otherwise accept-
able, the best plan is to mount him; if he is, as he ought to be
with such a shoulder, very rough, he should be rejected for saddle

The Back. — The back should be short, straight, and well
muscled. Backs are classed as straight, roach-back (convex),
or sway-back (concave). The straight back is a sign of
strength, and with this conformation the saddle will rest in a
good position. The roach-back, while strong, is unsightly and not
adapted to free and rapid motion. The sway-back may be con-
genital or acquired, and is the most faulty of all for saddle pur-
poses, because the weight is almost entirely sustained by the
ligaments, and the saddle is certain to bore into the muscles of
the back.

Short, straight backs are the strongest for weight carriers, but
a certain amount of length is essential both for speed and jump-
ing ; moreover a horse with a very short back is apt to overreach.

Sometimes the line of the back is higher behind than in front,
and sometimes higher in front than behind. These forms entail
an unequal distribution of the weight of the body upon the four

The Ribs. — The ribs should be well arched and definitely separ-
ated. This curvature, taken with full development of length, and



definite separation from each other, constitute desirable points of

Flatness, shortness, and near-
ness together are undesirable, be-
cause they limit the volume of
the chest, and characterize the
horse as short-winded and de-
ficient in power.

The Chest. — The chest com-
prises the forward part of the
body which incloses the heart
and lungs. The chest proper ex-
tends back to a line drawn
around the body crossing the
back some distance in rear of the
withers and passing underneath
forward of the belly. The front
of the chest is commonly called
the breast. The chest should be

Online LibraryWilliam H. (William Harding) CarterHorses, saddles and bridles → online text (page 2 of 24)