Light in Bone vs. Fine Boned - How to tell difference - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 5 Old 03-07-2013, 07:25 PM Thread Starter
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Light in Bone vs. Fine Boned - How to tell difference

Hi There,

This might seem like a dumb question.

I understand in concept what the difference is between light in bone and fine boned. To me fine boned means just more petite, but the bone is still dense and strong. Light in bone means less dense in bone and more prone to injury.

My question is, when you look at a horse, how do you tell the difference if they are just fine boned, or light in bone? Forgive me if this seems like an obvious question, but I'm curious to know.
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post #2 of 5 Old 03-07-2013, 08:01 PM
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I think they both mean the same thing. A fine boned/light boned horse has smaller bones which means there is more pounds per square inch of pressure on those bones. It is not related to bone density.

The only way to measure bone density is with X rays, and then you would be looking for OCD lesions (or sites of bone loss or arthritis). Bone density should be mostly the same regardless of whether you are comparing a TB vs a QH. Exercise improves bone density so it may even be possible for a TB to have denser bones than a QH, but he will have finer bones due to the increase in pounds per square inch.

Drafts and WB's may have thicker bones, but they are also more likely to have soundness issues due to the increased pressure on their legs. The bigger the horse, the more issues you can possibly have.
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post #3 of 5 Old 03-07-2013, 08:09 PM
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I think Glynnis is referring to what Faceman said about Arabs on another thread.

Arabs are considered fine-boned. However, they have very dense bones, which makes up for the lack of size in the bone.

To me, fine-boned horses are the ones like Arabs and some ponies. Their legs make look delicate, but they're strong and the horse is relatively light to begin with.

On the other hand, light on bone means a horse has insufficient bone for its size. You see this more with stock horses and bigger breeds, like TBs and warmbloods. If I look at a horse and its legs look too small for its body, I consider it light on bone.
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post #4 of 5 Old 03-07-2013, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by 4horses View Post
Drafts and WB's may have thicker bones, but they are also more likely to have soundness issues due to the increased pressure on their legs. The bigger the horse, the more issues you can possibly have.
Yes and no. There should only be issues if the horse either has bone too light for their body size (I think the ideal is 7" circumference on the cannon per 1000 pounds body weight) or if they are used for something that they have not been genetically prepared for through breeding.

For example, asking a draft to do jumping is going to put a lot more stress on their bones than asking them to plow a field.


As for the bone density, as 4horses said, that is something that can only be measured via x-ray.

Generally speaking, Arabs are known to have bones that are more dense than other breeds so a bone that is smaller can actually sustain more pressure.

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post #5 of 5 Old 03-08-2013, 11:47 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DraftyAiresMum View Post
I think Glynnis is referring to what Faceman said about Arabs on another thread.

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Ha, you caught that hey? Yes, I saw that and it got me to wondering. I was just curious. I mostly ride Arabians and my horse is Part-Arabian so I'm used to seeing fine boned horses.

I've also seen the "light of bone" remark mentioned in some of the confo critiques, so I wondered what the difference was. Thanks for the input. I'm always trying to learn more.
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