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Racinet's tri-dimensional law
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DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jan 21st, 2010 07:49 pm
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Dorothy, all good questions that, having been asked, will be of help to many other people.

There is no 'opposition' of the Ring of Muscles "vs." upward arching of the spine. The Ring of Muscles is the PARADIGM or conceptual model that explains how upward arching of the spine actually happens. The paradigm allows us to speak of the anatomy in terms of systems, rather than in terms of all the separate parts/separate names (regional anatomy), which is the approach that surgeons need to take.


But a "biomechanic" is a different type of beast. Biomechanics study, particularly of whole-body phenomena such as raising the back under a rider, needs to take a systems-anatomy approach rather than a regional-anatomy approach. Thus, the systems incorporated into the Ring of Muscles paradigm are: the passive support system which is composed of elastic (noncontracting or 'passive') structures that run dorsal to the vertebral chain; the 'core muscles' or active system that are attached below the vertebral chain; and the long perivertebral muscles which are attached above the vertebral chain.

The latter are called 'enemies' and the first two are 'friends'. The major point being made in the papers about the Ring which I have posted at this webite and published in books and in the national magazines is that the German/European teaching 'you must strengthen the muscles of the horse's topline' is wrong, if what you mean by 'strengthen' is to do something (like use draw reins, 'developers', tiedowns, martingales, or certain techniques of saddling or sitting) that directly cause the long perivertebral muscles, the enemies, to contract (especially bilateral contraction, but any excess contraction). These muscles DO NOT raise the back, and their equivalents above the spine in the neck DO NOT arch the neck or support it. There is only one place from which the back may be actively arched, and this is from the contraction of muscles whose attachments to the vertebral chain are below it.

One thing not understood by the Germans and the Germanoids who imitate them -- and this is a historical thing, not just recently; by which I mean, they have never yet understood it -- is how the horse arches his neck. I have seen laughably incorrect expositions of this, written by American veterinarians and published in magazines that, in an earlier day, were the "competition" for Equus Magazine. These wrong explanations fall into two categories: either, like those propounded by Digital Goddess, they think that muscles located above the vertebral chain in the neck somehow 'support' the neck; or else they confuse curling the neck with raising the base. There are indeed fairly large muscles, that span between the basioccipital region of the horse's skull and the ventral surfaces of the first three or four vertebrae, that the horse uses to pull his muzzle backwards for example when he is grazing. He will also use those muscles when he wants to curl the fore part of the neck. But this is not at all the same thing as raising the base of the neck, which is what he does for example on rare occasions when he sees you approaching and he is so glad about it that, like a dog, he first plie-bows and then "stretches" his neck far upward. You notice that this action is an apparent total contradiction to what we know about muscle function! Muscles CAN ONLY CONTRACT and that means they CAN ONLY GET SHORTER FROM END TO END! Right! So then how in the world can the muscles of the neck, given their attachments and their geometry, ever possibly cause the horse's neck to get a foot or more LONGER in length!!?

This was the Great Conundrum of the European Classical High School -- the mystery that all the old authors show us they were working to try to comprehend, all the way from Federico Grisone at the end of the Renaissance to Francois Robichon de la Gueriniere in the 18th century. 300 years, and they still could not totally solve it or even cogently describe it. The first man to put it ALL together was Francois Baucher, whose translation you have just ordered, Dorothy, and which I hope you are enjoying. As I say in the introduction to that, though, neither Baucher nor even his latter-day followers such as DeCarpentry understand in specific how the anatomy works. What they got right was -- as DeCarpentry puts it in the appendix to his book -- "....I am not absolutely sure what is going on with the anatomy, but what I DO know is that when my horse is relating correctly to the bit, his neck is doing THIS" -- and he provides a picture of a horse's neck with seven little blocks drawn in there to represent the vertebrae, and he puts an arrow that shows the blocks moving from the chest upward and forward. Right! And I am only too overjoyed to give these old boys the main credit!

The credit for the anatomy discoveries goes in another direction, and I review this in the 1986 introduction to Vol. I of my "Principles of Conformation Analysis". The main person is the Dutchman Sleijper, who first investigated the axial musculature of whales and dolphins, which, being mammals, also "hump" or "coil their loins" in order to swim, in other words they swim by moving their flukes up and down. He then moved into antelopes and there discovered the differences between swimming animals that hardly have necks and quadrupedal animals that have long necks.

I did no more myself than to read this literature and some related stuff by Kellogg, and realize that something similar must also go on in the horse, an animal that they did not look at. My whole programme of study in this area was kicked off when, one afternoon in 1976, a woman at the stable where I kept Sadie had one of those big old moosey TB geldings that used to be fashionable for dressage before Warmbloods came in. She had trained this horse to piaffe in hand. I asked her to show me, so she put him broadside to a fence and raised the whip and clucked at him, and he quietly "sat" and began trotting in place. I saw him fold the pelvis downward at a sharp angle, but something else also struck me: that at the moment he did this, his body got noticeably shorter -- not just from the downfolding of the pelvis, but in the front end you could see that the distance from the front of the lower part of his throat straight back to, say, his heart or where the girth would go, got less; you could say it got "more compact."

At the same moment, the topline over the LOWER part of his neck rose, and not just because the whole rest of the body was tilted by the lowering of the croup. The neck ROSE FROM THE BASE and in that instant I 'gestalted' and 'comprehended' the whole system. I then went looking in the library at our Museum of Natural History and found the pre-existing literature. It is to academics very important, that even if we obtain an insight which is truly out of our own juices, never to suppose that that would be the first time anyone ever had a similar insight, no matter how outstanding and pleasing it might seem to ourselves. So what Sleijper and Kellogg taught me was that the mechanism for extending the neck, arching the neck, and raising its base is first a product of the canted shapes of the lower three neck vertebrae, and second empowered by the longus colli (assisted by the scaleni), which are located under the declivity at the base of the neck, and which support it as a hammock supports a fat man. When they contract, the fat man rises -- ergo DeCarpentry's little diagram.

Next question. When you touch your horse under the sternum to get him to raise his back, next time have somebody who's a pretty good quickdraw on the camera take sequence photos. Or else have them put it on 'automatic sequence shots' if the camera has that function -- so it goes bzzip bzzip bzzip and you get series of three. Then run them up on your computer and drop the background (or save yourself the trouble by parking the horse in front of a dark wall or a white wall). Then use the overlay function to put no. 2 on top of no. 1 at 75% opacity, then put no. 3 on top of no. 2 at 40% opacity. This will allow you to see what changes are actually occurring.

What you will discover is this: (1) the horse lowers his head, which has an enormous effect in raising the center of his back, via the passive support system (vis. abovementioned). (2) the horse contracts his abdominal muscles, which also raises the center of the back. (3) When the center of the back rises, it must alter the angle of the row of centra which compose the fore part of the thorax. In short, this section of the back tilts downward at a slightly steeper angle than when at rest. Since the dorsal processes are firmly fixed to the tops of these centra, and also because they are long, it looks like the withers are moving up when what they are really doing is tilting just a wee bit forward.

Withers vertebrae that are strongly bound together by the deep ligamentous fibers can "fan" very little. But the strongest binding is between T2 and T6, the vertebrae with the tallest spines. T7-T10 or even as far back as T12 form the BACK aspect of the horse's withers, and these spines are much more capable of fanning. Also, if you have worked with your horse for a long time to supple him and free him, and/or if he is young, a little fanning among all the withers spines is, in fact, possible. The greatest finished horses arch their back, meaning every joint in their back, as much as possible when they bascule or round up or collect. And, you should also remember that the caudal attachment of the longus colli, the major muscle that empowers the raising of the base of the neck, lies under T7 or T8, so the effort does in fact affect the withers. But the whole reason for the existence of the withers is to act as a "stable zone", so that this muscle, and the whole mechanism of the shoulders exteriorly, can have a firm, non-moving place to attach to and from which leverage can be exerted. So no matter how much training or therapy you do, the withers will always be pretty unfannable and pretty stiff.

Third question. When an older horse starts to get a sagging back and you see it accompanied by a sagging belly -- like two ") )" symbols oriented horizontally -- then you know that his core muscles have become unfit. This by itself I would not call pathological: see the upcoming March issue of Equus Magazine (March or April, I'm not quite sure which), where I print a good example of a saggy older QH who is in no wise pathological, and who could be recovered as a good ride if he received some conditioning.

BUT look at this same article for other examples that ARE visibly pathological -- attenuation/strain of the loins, hydrocoeles, sacro-iliac pathologies. In the issue after the one I've just mentioned -- which I am just now finishing -- I'll be printing the photo of a mare whose withers were just beaten to a pulp through her employment as a field hunter but wearing always a saddle with the gullet too low; and another, very weak-fronted mare, with big saddle scars to either side of the withers. These are pathologies that are visible. Sometimes you also get pathologies that are not visible, vis. the ones present on the pony vertebrae submitted in this thread by Dave G., and to detect those you have to see the horse move or try to flex him and find out he can't, etc. Another photo I'll be showing along with the field hunter mare is some anterior thoracics with unreduced, healed fractures of the withers spines. These came from the specimen we dissected in Australia last April: the reason this horse BECAME a dissection specimen was that he was an incorrigible bucker. No wonder!

So the answer to your last question is: it becomes pathological when it becomes pathological. Mere sagging is not pathological. The best technique to determine the borderline between mere sagging and actual 'saddle back', which I would call pathological, is for you to develop (through intimate familiarity with many horse skeletons, and/or study of drawings that I provide, and/or study of the very best skeletal mounts in the world's great Museums of Natural History) -- a sort of "X Ray Vision" that tells you where the row of centra actually are. You need to learn to relate the shape of the topline that you can see and feel with your hand externally to the row of centra internally. This will tell you that the QH with the sagging back is not pathological, though he could easily step over the line in the wrong direction and become that; whereas the busted-withers mare, or the weak-fronted mare, or the mare with the attenuated loins, or the kyphotic mare that I show in these articles are all pathological.

Hope this helps. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

 

 

Dorothy
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 Posted: Thu Jan 21st, 2010 08:25 pm
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Thank you for your time, and thorough answers - they are extremely helpful.

I shall now go and sleep on this information, and see what other questions it throws up.

(I am gradually working my way through other posts, and learning lots!)

Dorothy

Wendy
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 Posted: Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 12:42 am
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Hello Dr Deb,

Thank you so much for the fridge pictures and the great discussion.  I have a couple of questions relating to this:

If you are initiating a turn (of say 45degrees) by inducing the horse to untrack and this automatically flexes the lumbo-thoracic chain laterally, how much lateral bend would you have in the cervical vertibrae, when the head is twirled?  Would it follow the curve as illustrated in your first drawing?

Secondly, how much lateral bend would you have in a Leg Yield?

I am thinking that in both you would have the bend flowing right through otherwise you would be blocking the movement.  Would trying to keep the neck straight make it difficult for the horse to unweight the shoulder?

Many thanks,

Wendy

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 Posted: Fri Jan 22nd, 2010 08:03 am
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Hi Dr Deb,

I have 2 questions at the moment!

1. How does a pony like the one you mention get the exostoses? I understand that bone will 'grow' in the direction of a consistent pull on it, so it must be due to abnormal tension in the deepest layers of spinal muscles (the multifidus?), so would this occur in a horse or pony that carries itself for a long time with the spine in extension, and the ring unsupportive?

I have recently seen a lovely jumping pony, with a huge heart, and a very poorly fitting saddle, who's back was so locked down, I could not persuade her to coil her loins, flex her spine or lift the root of her neck at all using using any of the 'physical therapy' type lifts and reflexes - would she be a candidate, in time, for this type of arthritic change?

2. Is there a consistent relationship between the position of the vertebral centra and the rib angles, and can I use the rib angles to indicate the positioning of the centra?

Thank You

Dorothy

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 Posted: Sat Jan 23rd, 2010 07:48 pm
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Hi Dr Deb and everyone,

Thanks for the fridge pictures, these are awesome.  Also thanks everyone for the great thread, as usual am learning so much here.  I have about twenty questions but am just off to ask the horse first.  Happy 2010.

Kind Regards Sam.

David Genadek
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 Posted: Sun Jan 24th, 2010 04:50 pm
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     Okay, it seems those little paddle thingies are very important so let me see if I can lay this out from an overall systems perspective.

     Imagine if you will an old-fashioned oscilloscope with the  round screen and in the screen appears horse from the side view. Slowly the body fades away so all that is left is the spine. The spine is a wave shape. Below our screen there are two knobs. One knob controls the hind end of the wave and the other controls the base of the neck. By turning the two knobs you vary the shape of the wave.  This is a two dimensional view. So now let the screen part of the oscilloscope fade away and let the wave rotate around so you're looking at it at from a 45° angle. Now where the sacrum would be add at a stick that goes 90° to the wave. Next add two controls to the bottom part of the oscilloscope these would be  up-and-down sliders which represent the legs of the horse from a three-dimensional perspective. By sliding the two sliders up and down your rotating the entire wave and thus influencing  its direction.

Conclusions:

    Straightness is important because it allows uninhibited spinal rotation. If any of the horses reciprocating systems are out of balance it will inhibit or block spinal rotation.

   Properly initiated gaits are a product of the establishment of a pattern of spinal rotation in conjunction with the setting of oscillatory limits of the spine through engagement of the hind quarter and the lifting of the root of the neck.

   The way you get a horse to bend in the rib cage is through a placement of the hind feet. So for those people who say horses do not bend in the rib cage what they are in fact saying is they have not yet gained governance of the hind legs.

David Genadek

Last edited on Sun Jan 24th, 2010 04:52 pm by David Genadek

Dorothy
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 Posted: Sun Jan 24th, 2010 05:33 pm
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Hello David,

A very interesting perspective!

It would be fascinating to take this model further and examine the difference in the relative movements in walk, trot and canter (and other gaits). I am imagining hard.

Dorothy

 

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 Posted: Mon Jan 25th, 2010 07:44 am
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David, I'm not quite sure I understand where you're going with this....true enough, when a horse is not straight, it inhibits (or screws up) ALL THREE dimensions of possible oscillation, i.e. up-down, side-side, and rotatory. However, as I mentioned above and as you saw in anatomy class, rotation -- which means motion around the fore-aft spinal axis -- is freely permitted in horses only at the joint between the atlas and axis vertebrae. As I have been saying in this thread, all other rotation that occurs is a kind of twisting, like a barber-pole, along the entire spine, i.e. lumbars + thoracics + lower cervicals. Although a horse's hips might drop over quite a bit (depending how vigorously he's moving, in what manner he's moving, and also on how wide his arse is), all the rotation that he can accomplish by lowering one hip would never be more than 30 degrees at the highest extreme, and normally more like 10 to 15 degrees. Again, as I have mentioned above, this imposes on average less than 2 degrees of rotation upon any one spinal joint outside of that between the atlas and axis.

From this you may reason that rotation is the MINOR component of spinal motion in horses. Further, in the ridden horse, rotation even where it is naturally designed to occur, i.e. between the atlas and axis, is to be as much as possible forbidden by the rider; in other words, the horse is not to be allowed to tilt his nose up to the side. The reason for this is that, if a horse is 'stuck' on other bends that we would like him to make, particularly lateral bends, finding these difficult he will offer to twist his head up to the side instead. Many horses will do this instead of twirl their head properly when asked, head-twirling being pure lateral translation or sideslipping of the occipital condyles upon the atlas, with no rotatory component whatsoever. If the rider or therapist permits anything else, it is not good form and to that degree the therapy will not be effective.

All gaits have their characteristic oscillatory 'emphasis' or 'composition'. The walk presents some up-down, lots of side-side, and lots of rotatory motion. Gait is similar but all the amplitudes are diminuendo (this is why gaited horses are in special need of suppling exercises, for 'diminuendo' can easily degrade into to 'rigid'). The trot presents about equal amounts of up-down and side-side, with less rotatory (and yet to sit the trot, it is crucial that the rider feel and follow the rotatory component; this is the key to sitting without bouncing). The canter, gallop, jumping, and airs above the ground emphasize the up-down oscillation, with less side-side or rotatory.

But even the particular mixture of oscillations at each gait differs from horse to horse, depending not only on build but age, soundness, and whether or not there is a background of proper training. Cheers -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Tue Jan 26th, 2010 09:59 pm
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Wendy wrote: Hello Dr Deb,

Thank you so much for the fridge pictures and the great discussion.  I have a couple of questions relating to this:

If you are initiating a turn (of say 45degrees) by inducing the horse to untrack and this automatically flexes the lumbo-thoracic chain laterally, how much lateral bend would you have in the cervical vertibrae, when the head is twirled?  Would it follow the curve as illustrated in your first drawing?

Secondly, how much lateral bend would you have in a Leg Yield?

I am thinking that in both you would have the bend flowing right through otherwise you would be blocking the movement.  Would trying to keep the neck straight make it difficult for the horse to unweight the shoulder?

Many thanks,

Wendy


Hi Wendy,  I am glad you asked these questions because they were similar to the ones I have been tossing around in my head as I review the pictures.  Did this get answered and I missed it one of the other answers?  Sometimes all of this bends my brain in a hurtful way, lol.

Kathy 

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 Posted: Sun Jan 31st, 2010 05:52 pm
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Deb,

 

      I wasn't real sure where I was going with it but it made a few connections in my head. What I have been searching for is how the intangible of energy is moving and being directed throughout the body and at first I thought perhaps rotation could be serving as the director of energy. However, I have been experimenting with my own body(oh I feel so dirty) and have come to realize the thing that is directing my energy is my intent.

    At first I began by taking a step and I could feel the rotation but then my arm would compensate for it when I was thinking about going forward. If I then thought about turning the same movement would allow me to turn. My intent was directing the motion. So the notion then becomes that the art of training is getting the horse to accept our intentions over his own.

I would like to say that I don't think that 15 to 30° is a small amount considering that is only one side so the you have to double it for the entire range of the rotation. It is also intrigued me in regard to the functioning of the curvatures of the spine. Rotating a straight rod is one thing rotating a rod with curves  is another. I have to think on all this more.

David Genadek

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 Posted: Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 06:49 pm
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DrDeb wrote: Dorothy, no part of the horse's spine is really designed to permit rotation EXCEPT one single joint, and that is the one between the atlas and axis at the front end of the neck. At that joint, rotation is the ONLY motion permitted, and quite a wide arc too.

The accessory articular processes of the thoracics are quite different from those of the lumbars. Whereas the facets on the lumbar ones are oriented nearly vertically, the facets on the thoracic ones are oriented nearly horizontally. Both quite effectively inhibit rotation.

However, whereas lateral flexion is absolutely forbidden within the sacrum (because its five vertebral elements are fused together), and forbidden among the sacrum and last three lumbar vertebrae (due to the presence of the inter-transverse articulations), and inhibited among the first three lumbars (due to the lumbar accessory facets) -- it is perfectly OK among any of the thoracics. It is also perfectly OK between the last thoracic and first lumbar, and in fact this joint can act almost as the hinge to the garden gate -- when you are standing to the side of a horse and he wants to kick you, the first thing he does that lets you know you ought to be backing out of there pronto is he'll cock his arse toward you. The 'cocking' is a sidestep he makes with the entire hindquarter, considered from the dock forward to the lumbo-thoracic joint, and hinged upon that joint. The horse who can do a really free half-pass also uses this joint plus any lateral flexibility he can squeeze out of the first three lumbars.

  Much more profitable is to look at the horse's spine in detail, just as you keep asking about Dorothy, and I wish more students would do what you are doing. -- Dr. Deb
Learning to understand (and appreciate) what the spine can do is a fascinating study!  Thank you to every one who's added to the discussion - didn't know how much I didn't know until reading here....now I have more questions:

1. If the joint between the atlas and axis allows a rotational movement only (if I understood correctly) Then is it the connection of the Atlas to the skull that allows the horse to move his head/nose up and down. eg. to move the nose from pointing toward the ground to pointing straight outward. Is this kind of a hinge joint? I have never seen it.

I have the "Horse Anatomy, A Coloring Atlas." Kainer, McCracken. If there is anything in there that is useful for explaining this.

2. Are there pictures here somewhere of the Accessory Articular Facets of the Thoracic Vertebra? (horizontal orientation is what i want to see) I saw the pic of the articular facets on the lumbar vertebra (vertical orientation)?
 
I think I found a pic of the lumbar vertebra "Articular processes (Dens of the axis)" on plate 7 of the book. Not sure what "Dens" means.

Thank you in advance for your help on this....:)
Betty Ann



DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Mar 22nd, 2011 08:07 pm
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Yes Betty Ann, good, you've been studying the anatomy books. That's real good.

"Dens" means "tooth". Projecting forward from the front lower edge of the axis vertebra in humans there is a prong that kind of looks like a fang. That's how it gets its name. It is not really a tooth; just a formation of the bone. Many names in horse anatomy or mammalian anatomy generally are taken from the human terminology, not always perfectly aptly. The horse's "dens" is shaped more like a wide spoon.

The dens projects into, and seats in, the lower half of the rear part of the atlas. Picture holding a serving-type tablespoon in your right hand, convex side down. Cup your left hand under the convex part of the spoon. Your left hand represents the atlas and the spoon the dens of the axis; this is a good picture of the actual arrangement.

It is upon the dens that the atlas + skull rotate. When rotation occurs, it is the skull + atlas moving together, locked together. They are locked together because rotation is not a permitted movement at the joint between the skull and the atlas.

Movements that are permitted at this joint are extension and flexion (poking the nose out and tucking it back), and twirling (swivelling of the skull around its long axis). Note that twirling and rotation are NOT the same action. In twirling, the skull rotates about its own long axis; in rotation, the skull + atlas rotate about the (projected) long axis of the axis vertebra.

What you have found with an anatomy book is that although the book may feature many things, movement is not one of them, because it is a book. A book is two-dimensional and it isn't a videotape. To really learn about horse anatomy, one must have an actual skeleton. You get a start on that by doing what others who correspond here have gone out of their way to do: visit museums of natural history, where mounted skeletons can be seen. You look at them, you make sketches, and if it is permitted, you take pictures (it generally is permitted so long as you turn off the flash).

You can also download the PDF's from our "Knowledge Base" section on evolution. Those PDF's contain many photos of skeletal mounts taken at various museums. This is not as good as being actually at the museum, but it might be helpful.

This is the beginning. After that, if you want more, you'll have to find a museum that offers a public-handling area or public-learning area, where they will have a staff member during certain hours who will supervise you as you handle actual box specimens. A box specimen is a skeleton that hasn't been mounted, just loose bones in a box. These are valuable because, even though the mounted skeleton shows you the correct relationships between the bones, it cannot move or be moved. You cannot open or close the joints on a skeletal mount because of the steel armature that holds it up. However, you can find pairs of bones in the box, i.e. for example the femur and tibia, and with your hands hold them in articulated position, and then manipulate them until it's clear to you how the joint functions. This is how all University students enrolled in anatomy programs, be they aspiring vets or zooarchaeologists or vertebrate paleontologists, learn it.

The museum where you find the "learning center" may or may not have horse bones specifically available. It won't matter. Learn the dog or the cat, and most of the principles will still apply. Then after that, you can come and take one of my anatomy classes where we specifically study horse. -- Dr. Deb

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 Posted: Sat Oct 3rd, 2020 08:07 am
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Very valuable pictures to be printed in this thread!!!!
Brilliant.


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