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


Lump, Bump, Growth on Leg


Skin lumps and bumps are common and can be tumors, cysts, abscesses, infections, healed flap wounds, granulomas, foreign bodies, bruises, hematomas, seromas and a variety of other conditions. But traumatic injury is the most common cause for a lump or bump on the leg. A bump overlaps with a "swelling" here.

You can give a small bump a little time to see if it resolves on its own, but you should call your vet with any questions or concerns. Whenever lameness accompanies a lump or swelling, it increases the urgency of the problem. A photograph can be very helpful to your vet in determining the nature and severity of a lump or bump. Look elsewhere on the body for similar lumps and document those if they exist.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
    • If the mass is large, painful or seems to be growing rapidly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you are convinced that the injury is minor and you notice no lameness or other problem.
    • If the mass is small, non-painful or seems to be only growing slowly.
You also might be observing
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your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the specifics of the swelling and whether it is painful. It is especially important to assess lameness at the walk. If a horse is lame with a growth, it indicates a more serious condition and increases the urgency for having it evaluated by a vet. When dealing with lumps and bumps, it can be helpful to take a photo and send to your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not ignore lumps or bumps on the legs. They can be associated with conditions causing lameness. Delay in diagnosis and treatment can be more likely to result in chronic lameness and loss of use.

your vet's role

Your vet assess lumps here as they do elsewhere, trying to identify a specific anatomic structure that is associated with the bump (is it associated with joint, bone or tendon?) and trying to determine the type of tissue that forms the bump. They do this through examination of the bump and comparison to similar bumps they have seen in practice.

In order to make a definitive diagnosis though, tissue must be taken in the form of a biopsy, or the whole mass can be removed surgically and a sample of it submitted to the laboratory for identification. The critical questions a veterinarian asks when dealing with a lump on the leg is "What is the specific anatomy involved? and "Is the horse lame?" Radiography and ultrasound are very helpful diagnostics in determining the nature of a lump or bump on the limb.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Is the horse limping or lame?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Is it changing in size or appearance over time?
  • Can you send me a photo?

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