Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Rigid, Stiff Limbs or Legs

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

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

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp>101F/38.3C), or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
  • If the horse is reluctant to move, along with this sign.
  • If you do not notice digital pulse or heat in the feet.

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

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Stiff or rigid limbs can result from a variety of injuries or illnesses such as foot soreness, muscle soreness, abdominal pain (colic), chest pain, or many other other neurologic or muscular diseases. This condition becomes more evident when a horse moves forward.

WHAT TO DO

If you notice that your horse’s limbs seem stiff, that is a good starting point for additional observations. Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to their feet and their environment. Assess your horse’s limbs gently, feeling for swelling or heat and look for wounds. Especially look for digital pulse and heat in the feet. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Taken alone, this observation is usually too broad of a sign to help your vet narrow down the problem. However, this observation is often accompanied by other abnormalities that, taken together, assist your vet in choosing appropriate diagnostics, reaching a diagnosis, and suggesting treatment options.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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