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Equine Health Resource

Groove, Dent or Divot in Neck or Shoulder

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • If this is the only sign you notice. The horse seems well to you otherwise.

Sometimes known as a “Devil’s Thumb print” or “Prophet’s thumb print”, dents in the muscle of the neck or shoulder are actually unlikely to cause a horse to be lucky.

These common “divots” of the neck are usually a long-term consequence of an old wound or muscle injury. They are not usually not of any great significance to the health of the horse. Muscle function requires an intact nerve supply. So any disease process that causes local nerve injury can also cause focal muscle loss. Traumatic injury of some kind, scar from prior intra-muscular injection reaction, and a variety of neurologic diseases are possible.


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the horse’s ability to walk normally and place the limbs in a normal fashion. Assess the affected area carefully. Is there pain to manual pressure on the area? Do you notice a patch of sweat there, or signs of swelling near the area? Look for signs of similar muscle loss in other areas. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. If the horse seems normal otherwise, point out the problem to your vet at your next appointment for routine care.


Your vet considers the conditions that cause this sort of muscle loss. In most cases, this is an incidental finding and does not impact the health of the horse much.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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