Horse Garments Help Teach Equine Anatomy

The garments—depicting bones, muscle groups, and more—can help veterinary students, chiropractors, and even owners and riders better understand the structures hidden under horses’ skin, researchers said.

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Leandro and colleagues developed a prototype garment made of polyester Lycra fabric closed with zippers before creating ready-to-use preprinted garments available in a variety of sizes. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Rafael M. Leandro

Body painting horses with anatomical structures gives us moving skeletons and muscle groups. These images, painted directly onto horses, help veterinary students, chiropractors, and even owners and riders to better understand the structures hidden under our horses’ skin.

But painting requires skill, repeatable accuracy, and time—lots of time. It also requires paint, which get can into the horse’s hair and skin. That’s why Brazilian researchers recently came up with a reliable welfare-friendly horse garment that gives the same effect.

“We began to observe that body painting required a lot of artistic technique and up to six hours of painting time, which sometimes made the horses uncomfortable, and then it didn’t even last very long,” said Rafael M. Leandro, PhD, professor of animal morphology in the Anhembi Morumbi University School of Veterinary Medicine, in Sao Paulo. “Thinking about the welfare of the animal, we decided to come up with some alternative methods of teaching, and the garment fit our criteria

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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