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


Groove, Dent or Divot in Neck or Shoulder


Sometimes known as a "Devil's Thumb print" or "Prophet's thumb print", dents in the muscle of the neck or shoulder are actually unlikely to cause a horse to be lucky.

These common "divots" of the neck are usually a long-term consequence of an old wound or muscle injury. They are not usually not of any great significance to the health of the horse. Muscle function requires an intact nerve supply. So any disease process that causes local nerve injury can also cause focal muscle loss. Traumatic injury of some kind, scar from prior intra-muscular injection reaction, and a variety of neurologic diseases are possible.

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    • If this is the only sign you notice. The horse seems well to you otherwise.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the horse's ability to walk normally and place the limbs in a normal fashion. Assess the affected area carefully. Is there pain to manual pressure on the area? Do you notice a patch of sweat there, or signs of swelling near the area? Look for signs of similar muscle loss in other areas. Share your findings and concerns with your vet. If the horse seems normal otherwise, point out the problem to your vet at your next appointment for routine care.

your vet's role

Your vet considers the conditions that cause this sort of muscle loss. In most cases, this is an incidental finding and does not impact the health of the horse much.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice areas of muscle loss anywhere else?
  • Does the horse have a history of trauma to the area?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Does the horse seem normal to you otherwise?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

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