Relating Form to Function: Horse's Muscle

Horses November 21, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

Ashley Griffin, University of Kentucky

Muscle areas of the horse

Muscling is an important criteria in judging many conformation classes, especially stock horses such as Quarter Horses, Paints, and Appaloosas. Muscling is proportional.

As one muscle in the body increases, total muscle mass increases. Muscling is visually appraised in the: 

  • Forearm
  • Chest
  • Shoulder
  • Loin
  • Stifle
  • Gaskin

Heavy-muscled horses have greater circumference of forearm, gaskin, and width of hindquarter than light-muscled horses.

Today, the horse industry accepts muscling that is long, clean, and well-defined. The degree and amount of muscling will be determined by the breed.

For example, Arabian horses will not have as much quantity, bulge, ripple, and definition to the muscle structure as stock horse breeds.

Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.