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


Dent in Rear End


When the hind limb is viewed from the side, the muscles that compose the rear of a typical horse bulge outward in a smooth arc. In some cases, the contour of these muscles on one side may appear to have a groove or dent in the muscles.

This is usually indicative of an injury to the hamstring muscle. The result of this is a hard scar that appears as a dent and feels like a hard cord within the tissues. Hamstring tears cause a typical gait of the hindlimb, in which the limb does not advance all the way forward and slaps down to the ground at the forward extent of flight.

Other changes in appearance of this area are from direct trauma (usually kicks) to the area which can cause fluid swellings (seromas and hematomas), and rarely other conditions.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If there seems to be pain, swelling or lameness.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you wonder whether limitations on your horse's performance could relate to lameness.

your role


What To Do

Gently but deeply feel the tissues of the abnormal area. Does the horse react in pain? To assess whether function of the hind limb has been changed due to hamstring injury, have someone lead the horse past you. Watch the arc of flight of the affected hind limb. Is it the same as the other limb or do you notice the classic "goose-stepping gait"?

your vet's role

In many cases, the injury occurred awhile ago and the resulting scar is no longer painful and does not cause a painful lameness, only a mechanical gait deficit. Your vet can help determine whether treatment is necessary and whether the injury is cause for concern, given the level of work your horse is in.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you see obvious lameness or a head bob?
  • Does your horse have a history of lameness?
  • Do you recall an accident or injury in the horse's history?
  • What type of riding is the horse used for?
  • How old is the horse?
  • Does the horse show a pain response when you apply pressure to the area?

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)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP