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


Thumps or Hiccups, Jerking Movements of the Side


"Thumps" are jerking or pulsing movements of the rear part of the rib cage that are said to look like hiccups. Thumping is abnormal, repetitive contraction of the diaphragm in rhythm with the heartbeat. It is a sign of overwork and electrolyte disturbance.

This abnormal condition is usually seen in exhausted horses, and results from excessive loss of calcium, magnesium and potassium, in combination with dehydration and lowering of pH of the blood.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

your role


What To Do

Affected horses should be allowed to rest. They should be cooled out, watered and fed. If the signs do not promptly disappear, then veterinary involvement is recommended.

your vet's role

Your vet assess the signs of exhaustion and treats symptomatically. Blood analysis of hydration and electrolyte status informs the choice of therapies.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Did your horse exercise recently?
  • Is the horse exhausted after exercise?
  • How long have you noticed this problem?
  • Describe the type of exercise and riding that you do with your horse.
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP