Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Cracking, Popping or Crunching when Limb Moved

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If severe lameness accompanies this sign.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If the horse seems normal other than this sign.

As in humans, popping and snapping sounds can occur in horses that are neither lame nor injured. Be skeptical of the significance of this sign when a horse appears normal otherwise.

On the other hand, this observation may accompany a fracture or ligament injury, particularly when coupled with severe lameness or a pain response to manipulation.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Look for swelling or other abnormalities of the limbs. Assess lameness at the walk. If they are sound at the walk, observe them at the trot. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet observes the sound you are describing, evaluates the limb carefully, and determines the presence or the degree of lameness. The veterinary examination of the limb can tell a great deal about the health of the anatomical structures. The presence of absence of lameness and response to standing flexion tells a great deal about the presence or absence of injury.

Radiographs, ultrasound and other imaging provides additional information to make a definitive diagnosis.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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