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


Swelling on Top of Hip, One Side or Both


Changes to the appearance of the top of the horse's hip can indicate one of several common injuries. The loin (lumbo-sacral area) is critical to performance and comfort as it represents the horse's "transmission", the linkage between the motor (hind limb) and body.

Injury to this area can be visible and associated with chronic lameness. A prominent, hard bump on one or both sides of the highest point of the hip is known as a "hunter bump" and is the consequence of (a usually old) strain of the sacro-iliac joint. Old, cold and hard hunter bumps are usually no more than a blemish and do not cause pain. Generalized painful swelling in the area may indicate a more recent injury. A variety of other injuries can occur here, including hematomas.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice any lameness or have any other concern.
    • If the area seems painful to the touch.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you do not notice lameness or pain, only a swelling.

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse at the walk and trot, especially watching the arc of flight of hind limbs, and symmetry of hind limb movement. Press the area, looking for a pain response. Always compare the normal and abnormal sides for reference.

If you have questions about whether swelling here is significant or not, contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

What Not To Do

NEVER purchase a horse with a swelling here without a veterinary pre-purchase exam!

your vet's role

Your vet assesses the area and performs a lameness exam to determine whether the abnormality could be causing lameness.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice the swelling?
  • Do you see obvious lameness or a head bob?
  • Is the area painful to pressure with your hands?
  • Have you noticed that the horse is stiff or sore?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Is the horse performing to your expectation under saddle?
  • Was a purchase exam performed before buying the horse?
  • Describe the type of exercise and riding that you do with your horse.

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