Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Fracture of Withers

Synonyms: Fracture of the Thoracic Spinous Processes


Fractured withers usually occurs when a horse rears over backwards and falls directly onto its back and withers. In most cases, swelling will be obvious and the withers appear flattened soon after the injury.

Radiographs confirm the diagnosis, and show the fractured tips of the spines of the vertebrae. Ultrasound can add helpful information to this diagnosis.

Treatment is usually long term rest. Horses are usually not ridden for several months following the accident. Most horses can return to their prior level of work when they are fully healed.

my vet's role


Fair to good, but requires 3-6 months of healing time. The prognosis is worse if the fracture is accompanied by an open wound.

Infection tends to be a problem. Some traumatic injuries to the withers will develop abscesses and infection of the underlying bone.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP