Relate musculoskeletal structure to horse movement

This Unit of Competency covers the process of identifying equine musculoskeletal structural characteristics and relating these to the impact on horse movement.


The Unit is applicable to the equine industry where it may be necessary to determine and relate the structural characteristics of the equine musculoskeletal system to horse movement and communicate findings to others.In addition to legal and ethical responsibilities, all Units of Competency in the ACM10 Animal Care and Management Training Package have the requirement for animals to be handled gently and calmly. The individual is required to exhibit appropriate care for animals so that stress and discomfort is minimised.


There are no pre-requisite Units for this competency standard.

Elements and Performance Criteria



1 Determine structural characteristics of the equine musculoskeletal system

1.1 Terminology describing the anatomical and physiological features and planes of the body is interpreted

1.2 The operation of the musculoskeletal system in relation to body stability, movement, power and stamina, is determined

1.3 Structure and types of bones and joints are identified, and related to purpose

1.4 Structure and types of soft tissues is determined, as well as the relationship of ligaments and tendons to the musculoskeletal system

2 Locate equine muscles and supporting tissues related to equine locomotion, power and stamina and determine their function

2.1 Deep and superficial muscles of significance to power and locomotion are located

2.2 Muscle actions, origin and insertion points are defined

2.3 Tendons and ligaments of significance to power and locomotion are identified

3 Define changes in the equine musculoskeletal system due to growth and performance

3.1 Changes to bone due to age, exercise, ailments and injury are determined

3.2 Changes to soft tissues as a result of growth, exercise, ailments and injury are determined

3.3 Impact of overtraining and injury on the musculoskeletal system is identified

3.4 Changes to hooves and feet that can occur as a result of growth, exercise, ailments and injury are identified

3.5 Outcomes of findings using anatomical, physiological and industry terminology are communicated to others

Required Skills

Required skills include:

Ability to:

analyse and solve problems using available information and resources including recording information and prioritising daily tasks

apply interpersonal skills to work with others and relate to people from a range of cultural, social and religious backgrounds and with a range of physical and mental abilities

communicate effectively with others, including questioning, active listening, asking for clarification and consulting with or seeking advice from other relevant persons

consult clearly and precisely with other equine service providers, horse owners and others

document and report using appropriate terminology

employ safe and environmentally responsible organisational systems and procedures when working with and handling horses

follow sequenced written instructions; record accurately and legibly information collected; and select and apply procedures to a range of defined tasks

identify evidence of musculoskeletal changes that have occurred due to age, performance, ailments and injury

identify musculoskeletal features that influence movement, power and stamina

identify origin and insertion points of muscles on horses and models

identify hoof and foot structures and changes that occur due to growth, exercise, ailments and injury

identify prominent bones, structures, muscle groups, ligaments and tendons through palpation

identify sensitive areas on surface anatomy which if handled may result in the horse behaving in a manner dangerous to itself or the handler

interpret and respond appropriately to horse behaviour

locate palpable muscles relevant to locomotion, power and stamina on surface anatomy of live horses

maintain the highest standards of hygiene and infection control at all times to reduce the risk of infection and cross-infection; considering zoonotic and exotic disease possibilities (biosecurity)

numeracy skills to estimate, calculate and record routine workplace elements

read and follow required policies and procedures, including OHS, infection control and waste management

read and interpret anatomical references, diagrams and other documents relevant to the musculoskeletal system of horses

use and interpret terminology used to describe the planes of the body and to orientate anatomical features

use safe manual handling techniques and/or equipment

use safe, hygienic and environmentally friendly waste handling and disposal procedures.

Required knowledge includes:

Knowledge of:

anatomical and physiological terminology used to describe features, actions, location and orientation of the musculoskeletal system

changes in the anatomical structure that have occurred during the evolution of the horse

changes in the anatomical structure that can occur due to age, performance, ailments and injury

conformational characteristics that may impact on musculoskeletal structure stability

demands on modern competition and working horses that may impact on the musculoskeletal system

hoof and foot anatomical features and the impact of growth, exercise, ailments and injuries on structures

pathology and symptomology of common horse ailments and injuries related to the musculoskeletal system of the performance horse

principles of animal welfare

relevant legislation, regulations and codes of practice, including OHS, animal welfare and ethics, veterinary practice and waste disposal

safe work practices

structure, function, actions, names and location of muscles significant to horse performance

structure, shape, function, names and location of bones and joints of the horse

structure, function, name and location of ligaments and tendons significant to horse performance

workplace hygiene standards (biosecurity) including: disinfectants, cleaning agents and techniques, cleaning and appropriate disinfection or sterilisation of equipment, materials and personal protective equipment (PPE).

Evidence Required

The evidence guide provides advice on assessment and must be read in conjunction with the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge, range statement and the Assessment Guidelines for the Training Package.

Overview of assessment

Critical aspects for assessment and evidence required to demonstrate competency in this Unit

The evidence required to demonstrate competence in this unit must be relevant to workplace operations and satisfy all of the requirements of the performance criteria, required skills and knowledge and the range statement of this Unit. Assessors should ensure that candidates can:

determine the structural characteristics of equine musculoskeletal system

locate and determine the function of equine muscles and supporting tissues related to locomotion, power and stamina

define the changes in equine musculoskeletal system due to growth, performance, ailment or injury

communicate with others to describe and interpret musculoskeletal structures and features using anatomical, physiological and industry terminology.

The skills and knowledge required to relate musculoskeletal structure to horse movement must be transferable to a range of work environments and contexts and include the ability to deal with unplanned events.

Context of and specific resources for assessment

Assessment for this Unit is to be practical in nature and will be most appropriately assessed in an equine workplace or in a situation that reproduces normal work conditions.

There must be access to a range of horses and ponies, anatomical models and the relevant equipment and resources to enable one to demonstrate competence.

Method of assessment

To ensure consistency in performance, competency should be demonstrated, to industry standards, on more than two occasions over a period of time in order to cover a variety of circumstances, cases and responsibilities and over a number of assessment activities.

The assessment strategy must include assessment of competency in a work environment. Suggested strategies for this Unit are:

written and oral assessment of candidate’s required knowledge

observed, documented and first-hand testimonial evidence of candidate’s application of practical tasks

simulation exercises that reproduce normal work conditions

case studies

third-party evidence

workplace documentation.

This Unit may be assessed in a holistic way with other Units of Competency relevant to the industry sector, workplace and job role.

Guidance information for assessment

Assessment methods should reflect workplace demands (e.g. literacy and numeracy demands) and the needs of particular target groups (e.g. people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, people with a language background other than English, youth and people from low socio-economic backgrounds).

Range Statement

The range statement relates to the Unit of Competency as a whole. It allows for different work environments and situations that may affect performance. Bold italicised wording, if used in the performance criteria, is detailed below. Essential operating conditions that may be present with training and assessment (depending on the work situation, needs of the candidate, accessibility of the item, and local industry and regional contexts) may also be included.

Operation of the musculoskeletal system may include:

components of the musculoskeletal system:

blood supply


cartilage including hoof and foot




functions of the musculoskeletal system:

agonist and antagonist muscle pairs for stability, weight support and range of motion

components of the hematopoietic system

concussion absorption

creation of levers to create power

organ protection

stay apparatus for body stability at rest

storage of energy

storage system for calcium and phosphorus.

Structure and type of bones and joints may include:

bone structure:


concentric lamellae






bone types:






bone functions:

blood production

mineral storage

structural support

weight bearing

cartilage types:




cartilage structure:



structure of joints:

cartilaginous joint, joined by cartilage such as sliding, synchondrosis and symphysis joints

fibrous joint, joined by fibrous connective tissue such as a skull suture

synovial joint, not directly joined such as ball and socket and hinge joints

function of joints:

amphiarthrosis, permits slight mobility, most are cartilaginous joints eg. vertebrae

diarthrosis, permits a variety of movements, all are synovial joints eg. hip, knee

synarthrosis, permits little or no mobility, most are fibrous joints eg. skill sutures

biomechanical function of joints:

simple hoint: 2 articulation surfaces eg. hip joint

compound joint: 3 or more articulation surfaces eg. knee

complex joint: 2 or more articulation surfaces and an articular disc or meniscus eg. stifle

surface features and orientation.

Structure and types of soft tissues may include:

muscle tissue:




muscle types:

2/3 headed parallel








ligaments and tendons

surface features and orientation.

Changes to bone may include:

accelerated cell replacement



growth plate development



Changes to soft tissue may include:


blood flow increase to muscles

bruising of muscles



lesion development


temperature increase.

Impact of overtraining and injury may include:

adaptive failure:


cell wall failure

exertional rhabdomyolosis (tying up)



ligament sprain, tear

ossification of tendons and ligaments

osslet production


tendon strain or tear

arthritic changes to joint surfaces

joint fluid loss

scar tissue development.

Changes to hooves and feet may include:


bruising of soles

concussion related changes:


navicular disease


cracks and splits in hoof wall

hoof wall separation

wearing of hoof faster than rate of tissue replacement.

Others may include:



handlers or attendants

equine allied health care providers

owners or carers




Employability Skills

This Unit contains employability skills.

Licensing Information

No licensing, legislative, regulatory or certification requirements apply to this Unit at the time of publication.