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


Hypersensitive to Touch on Flanks & Belly


When a horse seems to react excessively to a hand touching these areas, the problem can be strictly behavioral or can relate to any of a variety of underlying conditions.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice significant swelling or pain at the site.
    • 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.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • To rule out physical issues that may be causing the problem.
    • If this is the only sign you notice. The horse seems well to you otherwise.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
more observations

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the area of concern. Look for any abnormality like swelling, heat or skin abnormalities. Then, try to determine whether this is a behavioral issue or physical problem resulting in pain or discomfort by performing the two skills Modify Behavior, Desensitize to Touch.

If you have any doubt, or notice any other signs of illness or disease, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

Your vet evaluates general health and repeats the stimulus and observes the behavior. Through this assessment, they should be able to differentiate physical from training issues.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Can you detect swelling or heat in the area?
  • When did you first notice this behavior develop?
  • When did you last think your horse seemed normal?
  • Has the horse been showing signs of abdominal pain (colic)?
  • 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.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP