Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Dent in Rear End

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

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If there seems to be pain, swelling or lameness.

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

  • If you wonder whether limitations on your horse's performance could relate to lameness.

When the hind limb is viewed from the side, the muscles that compose the rear of a typical horse bulge outward in a smooth arc. In some cases, the contour of these muscles on one side may appear to have a groove or dent in the muscles.

This is usually indicative of an injury to the hamstring muscle. The result of this is a hard scar that appears as a dent and feels like a hard cord within the tissues. Hamstring tears cause a typical gait of the hindlimb, in which the limb does not advance all the way forward and slaps down to the ground at the forward extent of flight.

Other changes in appearance of this area are from direct trauma (usually kicks) to the area which can cause fluid swellings (seromas and hematomas), and rarely other conditions.

WHAT TO DO

Gently but deeply feel the tissues of the abnormal area. Does the horse react in pain? To assess whether function of the hind limb has been changed due to hamstring injury, have someone lead the horse past you. Watch the arc of flight of the affected hind limb. Is it the same as the other limb or do you notice the classic “goose-stepping gait”?

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

In many cases, the injury occurred awhile ago and the resulting scar is no longer painful and does not cause a painful lameness, only a mechanical gait deficit. Your vet can help determine whether treatment is necessary and whether the injury is cause for concern, given the level of work your horse is in.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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