The popular three-dimensional electronic horse model, "The Glass Horse CD," which offered a novel look at the gastrointestinal anatomy of the horse when it was introduced in November of 2001, has a new companion that depicts the structures of the equine distal (lower) limb. This CD, called "Elements of the Equine Distal Limb," should be available for shipping before the end of the month. James N. Moore, DVM, PhD, who developed the model with colleagues at the University of Georgia, showed the existing Glass Horse program, a preview of the distal limb model, and additional gastrointestinal tract images to horse owners and veterinarians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital's annual client education seminar on Jan. 5 in Lexington, Ky. Click here to see still shots of some of the animations he shared.

Used with permission from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine

James N. Moore, DVM, PhD, revealed some of the animations included in the new "Elements of the Equine Distal Limb" CD, which will be released soon.

In veterinary school, Moore had difficulty mentally visualizing equine abdominal structures, and he had noticed the same struggle in his veterinary students for years. "A lot of people have trouble translating two-dimensional illustrations to mental images that have three dimensions. The latter is reality," he said. "Two-dimensional images are great for memorizing anatomic structures, but that's not how they are in the horse! The end result can be trouble, as the veterinarian must have an accurate image of what exists beneath the skin, or in this case within the abdominal cavity. The diagnosis depends on this--that's where the rubber meets the road in dealing with colic cases," he said. (Click here to read about the original Glass Horse and how Moore and his colleagues developed it.)

"It is important to recognize that computer-generated images and animations, whether they are created in two or three dimensions, cannot replace true life experiences," Moore wrote in a summary paper of the Glass Horse. "While these images augment the students' time spent studying and manipulating the horse's gastrointestinal tract in the anatomy laboratory or on the post-mortem floor, they do not replace these hands-on experiences nor the time and effort required to become proficient performing a thorough rectal examination."

At the Rood and Riddle seminar, Moore showed some of the group's new gastrointestinal animations, which include enterolithiasis (in which stones lodge in the transverse colon and cause blockage), ileal impaction (a blockage forming in the small intestine); incarceration of the small intestine through the mesenteric rent (some horses have a hole in the membrane that supplies blood vessels to the intestine, and the intestine can work its way through the hole and get trapped), and a pedunculated lipoma (a stalked tumor that can strangulate the small intestine). Ultimately, these animations will be added to the Glass Horse gastrointestinal program, which includes a left dorsal displacement of the large colon, a pelvic flexure impaction, right dorsal displacement (of the colon), large colon torsion/volvulus (the most life-threatening displacement of the large colon), and small intestinal strangulation obstruction. Moore couldn't provide an exact timetable for updating the gastrointestinal program, but indicated that he and his colleagues hope to be able to do it this year. He pointed out repeatedly that his role in this process is rather small; "The hard work is done by the graphic artists, Thel Melton and Flint Buchanan, who create the animations; the instructional technologist, Dr. Mac Smith (PhD), who creates the interactive interface that runs everything; and Drs. Andy Marks (VetMB, who extensively researches the anatomy of the equine foot) and John Peroni (DVM, MS, a large animal/equine surgeon)."

Elements of the Distal Limb

"The horse's distal limb is unbelievably complex," said Moore. He gave a preview of the distal limb animations that soon will be released to veterinarians and the public. Like in the gastrointestinal animations, the user can manipulate the image so it can be viewed from all directions, and you can "remove" structures from the image to better see the underlying structures. You can also make bones transparent to see opposing structures and how they fit. One aim in developing this program was to make it more interactive, and from what Moore previewed it appears that they achieved that aim.

"Currently, we are using the Glass Horse program to help  first-year veterinary students see why they are learning the anatomy, and then use it again when they are third and fourth-year students to help them better understand the clinical conditions. The goal is to help make them better veterinarians when they graduate, and hopefully help them be able to more easily explain the conditions to their clients," said Moore.

You can see still shots from the existing Glass Horse CD and order the product at

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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