Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Loss of Shoulder Muscle on Right or Left

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

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

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

  • If the horse seems to be in distress.
  • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.

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

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Muscle groups are innervated by (the nerve supply comes from) specific nerves. If anything interferes with the nerve supplying a muscle, then the muscle will waste away (called denervation atrophy). Lack of use also causes muscle atrophy.

Obvious localized loss of shoulder muscle may result from a variety of problems including traumatic nerve damage, neurologic diseases, or Sweeney – a condition in which the muscles overlying the shoulder are severely atrophied leading to a hollowed-out appearance. Sweeney is caused by traumatic damage to the suprascapular nerve that runs near the point of the shoulder, usually from a severe blunt impact to that area.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Compare the appearance of the shoulder to the opposite side. Assess lameness at the walk. As the horse walks, look for shoulder slippage or popping action around the shoulder that can sometimes result from the lack of stability created by the absence of muscle support of the joint. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will try to determine the cause for this muscle loss using physical, neurologic and other clinical exams. In many cases, they will also recommend a lameness exam. In some cases, they will recommend additional tests.

What Not To Do

Do not ride a horse that has obvious loss of muscle in the shoulder area without veterinary guidance. The horse could fall.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Sending