Directional Terminology of the Horse

Have you ever spoken to or read a summary from an equine professional and found yourself a little confused about the terminology they're using? Here's a diagram that should help explain some basic directional terminology for you, and at the very least give you a good reference point when deciphering the information they're giving. You might even like to download a PDF copy of the directional terminology to keep on hand at home.

Caudal: The rear portion of the horse – the plane going towards the hind. Cranial: The front portion of the horse – the plane going towards the head. Distal: Meaning further away from the main part of the horse’s body. Ie: The hoof is the most distal part of the leg. Proximal: Meaning closer to the body, or point of attachment. Ie: The knee is proximal to the ankle. Dorsal: The back surface, or topline Ventral: Underneath the belly. The under part. Lateral: Away from the middle plane (mid line) of the horse’s body. Also refers to the outside or external part of a surface. Medial: Towards the middle plane (mid line) of the horse’s body. Also refers to an inner or more internal part. Palmer: From the bottom of the front hoof (the sole) continuing up to the back of the knee. Plantar: From the bottom of the hind hoof (the sole) continuing up to the back of the hock. Rostral: From top of head and towards the nose.


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