The lymphatic system of Equine extremities

Typical dry head by a thoroughbred. The veins are clearly visible.

A nice dry leg on a thoroughbred. Skin tight between the tendons, the veins around the knee visible.

        This article will explain in my best effort the very little known/observed anatomical characteristic in horses. To my knowledge and observation I have not seen many horsemen these days, describing the anatomy of the lymphatic system of equine legs. This part is very important in the individual or a particular breed description, because it does influence greatly the durability and soundness of a horse. If we are speaking of a “wet leg” lymphatic system, we are talking about legs in horses, that contain more fluid as against the “dry leg” that contain less fluid. These characteristics are closely associated with either porous or dense bone structure. Horses of the western group have mostly “wet/lymphatic" legs with larger, porous and weaker bones, while the “dry” legged horses of the Oriental group have actually smaller but stronger, more dense bones and also stronger tendons. In the exterior of a horse can be seen that in the “dry leg” the tendons and veins are clearly visible and the skin is “sucked” tight between the tendons, while in the “lymphatic” the opposite is true. When breeding horses, these qualities (dry leg) or deficiencies (wet leg/lymphatic) of horses deserve a great consideration when trying to produce a durable and sound lasting horse for faster speeds/gaits.

lymphatic system (lim-fatik sistm)n. The interconnected system of spaces and vessels between body tissues and organs by which lymph circulates throughout the body.

lymph  (limf)n. 1. A clear, watery, sometimes faintly yellowish fluid derived from body tissues that contains white blood cells and circulates throughout the lymphatic system, returning to the venous bloodstream through the thoracic duct. Lymph acts to remove bacteria and certain proteins from the tissues, transport fat from the small intestine, and supply mature lymphocytes to the blood. 2. Archaic. A spring or stream of pure, clear water.[Latin lympha, water, from Greek numphe, water spirit.]

More photos coming soon!

Written by Ludvik K Stanek a.k.a. Lee Stanek