THE SKIN HE’S IN
Your horse’s skin is a big deal, physiologically speaking. It is the largest organ in his body and contributes to many vital functions, including thermoregulation, immune responses and sensory perception.
The outermost layer of the skin, called the epidermis, forms a tough shield against external threats like insects, rubbing tack and thorny bushes. Within the epidermis pidermis are also cells s that aid in immune responses, rallying the body’s defensive forces if an invader is detected.
The second layer of the skin is the dermis, a thick, flexible layer made up primarily of collagen. The dermis allows the skin to maintain its shape and structure even as the horse moves. It also contains sweat glands, sebaceous glands and hair follicles, all of which are supported by an extensive network of nerves and capillaries.
The deepest layer of equine skin is the subcutis, which is made up of elastic connective and fatty tissues. This layer of skin is tightly anchored over the horse’s hips and vertebrae but slides freely over muscles that move with the horse. The subcutis connects to sheets of muscle on the sides of the body that allow the horse to “twitch” his skin to shake off flies.