What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Stomping Feet on the Ground while Standing


Horses usually stomp when there is something irritating their skin, usually on the lower limbs. The most common cause is insects, but irritating substances placed on the skin, or generalized pain can cause this behavior too. Draft breeds are prone to Chorioptes mites (mange), that live in the feathers of the lower limbs. For draught breeds or others with long hair here, this is an important consideration.

Horses will also stomp their feet when they are bored, impatient or annoyed. Horses that are unaccustomed to being bandaged may do this until they adapt to a bandage.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If the behavior persists for longer than 30 minutes without an explanation.
    • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • To discuss your equine's general health and management.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's legs, looking for flies or other insects or skin abnormalities. If this is a draft breed, then mange needs to be ruled out. Apply fly spray if necessary. If flies are not the problem, consider whether something else might be irritating the skin. If you have applied a topical treatment to the horse's skin either under a bandage or without, and this behavior persists for longer than 15 minutes, clean it off and consider using a less irritating alternative.

If the behavior persists without an obvious cause, assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the horse's lower limbs and underline. Touch the skin of these areas, feeling for heat, pain response, swelling and for breaks in the skin. Consider any other behaviors that might be related. Offer feed to test appetite and attitude. Feel the affected foot for digital pulse and heat.

If the behavior persists without explanation, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet performs a careful exam to rule out skin conditions and conditions causing pain. For draft breeds, an attempt is made to rule out mites. A close inspection of the lower limbs might reveal a problem causing the behavior.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice insects bothering the horse?
  • Have you applied anything to the skin in the last week?
  • What does the insect look like?
  • Do you notice anything that might be irritating this area?
  • Has anything changed in the horse's environment, such as feed, bedding, or housing?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP