Parts Of A Horse Head Explained!

Last Updated on February 1, 2022

Have you ever wondered what are the different parts of a horse head? The head of a horse is a truly wonderful piece of anatomy, uniquely adapted to enable a horse to survive in the wild.

If you’re interested in learning about horse anatomy, the head is a great place to start. Horses have some interesting adaptations, and we can have a lot of fun learning about why they are shaped this way. Let’s find out more about the parts of a horse head!

Horse Head Anatomy Explained – Parts Of A Horse Head

The horse’s head is relatively large in comparison to other species of mammals. In a large horse, the head can weigh as much as 16 kilograms. However, there is a good reason as to why horses have such large heads.

Firstly, horses need to chew and grind huge amounts of vegetation each day in order to survive. For this, they need powerful jaws that can work hard all day long. This is why the majority of the horse’s skull consists of two large jawbones, the mandible, and maxilla.

Horse Head Anatomy Explained

The horse has a unique type of dentition that enables it to be able to eat large quantities of grass and hay. The grinding surface of a horse’s teeth will wear down gradually over time, and to compensate for this their teeth will erupt very slowly over their lifetime. So, a young horse will have very long teeth, that are hidden deep within the skull!

Another intriguing adaptation of the horse’s skull is the sinuses. These are large cavities within the skull and are part of the respiratory tract. Their function is to aid respiration, but they also help to lighten the overall weight of the horse’s skull.

Read more about Are Dominant White Thoroughbred Horses Rare?

What Are The Different Parts Of A Horse Head?

The best way to describe the different parts of a horse’s head is to break it down into bones, cavities, and muscles.

Bones Of The Horses Head

Although the head of the horse looks very solid, it actually contains 34 separate bones! These include:

  • Maxillary bone, the upper jaw that contains the upper molars

  • Mandible, the lower jaw. This is the largest bone in the skull

  • Frontal bone, that creates the horse’s forehead

  • Occipital bone, which joins the skull to the spinal column

Anatomy of the Horse

Parts Of A Horse Head
  • Temporal bone helps to transmit sound from the ear to the eardrum

  • Zygomatic bone, which attaches to the temporal bone and forms the cheekbone

  • Incisive bone, an extension of the upper jaw that contains the incisor teeth

  • Nasal bone contains the nasal sinuses

  • Lacrimal bone carries fluid from the eye to the nose via the nasolacrimal duct

Cavities Of The Horses Head

The head of a horse contains four cavities:

  • The cranial cavity, which contains and protects the brain.

  • Orbital cavity, surrounding the eye.

  • The oral cavity consists of the mouth which contains the teeth and tongue

  • Nasal cavity, which is the inside of the nostrils and the sinuses

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Muscles Of The Horses Head

The horse’s head is not particularly muscular, as it does not need to carry weight like other parts of the body. However, the horse does need to chew tough vegetation for many hours each day. This work is carried out by the masseter muscle, a large muscle that lies over the cheek of the horse.

Muscles Of The Horses Head

Parts Of A Horse Head Summary

So, as we have learned, the parts of a horse’s head include powerful jaws to chew grass and hay and long teeth that are hidden within the skull. The head of a horse is large in proportion to the body compared to most other types of mammals. Horses have different shaped heads according to their breed and type.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on horse head anatomy! Do you find the way these incredible equines have evolved fascinating? Or perhaps you have some questions about the parts of a horse head? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!


What Are The Different Parts Of A Horse?

The anatomy of a horse is complex and there are many names used to describe different areas and parts of the horse. Firstly, we can broadly divide the parts of a horse into several large areas. These include the body of the horse, the head, the neck, and the limbs. The limbs, or legs, of a horse are described either as the forelegs or the hindlegs.

Each area of the horse is then subdivided into many different parts. For example, the legs of a horse are broken down into the bones of the leg, and the joints that connect these bones together. The body is divided into the front portion - the chest, or thorax - the midsection, also called the abdomen, and the hindquarters.

Confusingly, each part of a horse can be known by more than one name! This is because we have the anatomically correct name, used by veterinarians, and the colloquial name, used by horsemen and laypeople. One good example of this is the major joint in the foreleg which horsemen call the knee, and veterinarians call the carpus.

What Are The Parts Of A Horses’s Head Called?

The horse's head can be subdivided into two parts. The top section is called the neurocranium; this contains all parts from the eye sockets upwards. The half of the head below the eyes, often referred to as the muzzle, is called the viscerocranium.

What Is The Hair On A Horses Head Called?

Horses have hair all over their bodies, but the length and texture of the hair differs according to the location. The hair that lies of the majority of the body is called the coat; this is a short, relatively thin layer of hair.

Elsewhere on the body the horse will have longer, thicker hairs. This includes hairs that lie along the crest of the neck and in-between the ears. The hair along the neck is called the mane, and the hair in between the ears that falls over the forehead is called the forelock.

Horses also have long, thin hairs on their muzzles called whiskers. These hairs are very sensitive and allow the horse to 'feel' for things with his nose.