The skeleton is the bony framework which gives attachment to muscles, forms cavities for the safe lodgment of the organs essential to life, and gives general support to the body. When the bones are united by their proper ligaments the skeleton is said to be a natural one, but when they are held together by wire, catgut, and other foreign materials, it is termed an artificial skeleton.

The skeleton of the horse is made up of about 163 bones, which are united in various ways to form joints movable or fixed, according to the purpose of the part into which they enter.

The skeleton is divided into trunk and extremities. The trunk comprises the head and spinal column, the ribs, the sternum, and pelvis. The extremities are distinguished as the fore and hind, or the thoracic and pelvic.