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


Pop or Clunk Sound when Bearing Weight on Hind Limb or Walking


This sign may be associated with a variety of conditions, some serious and others not.

Higher pitched clicking or snapping sounds often come from the extensor tendons as they travel through the hock, and are usually not a problem.

A deep popping or clunking sound commonly results from the intermittent locking of the patella, especially if the sound corresponds to the transition from the stance phase to the front (swing) phase of the stride.

Horses with fractures and severe joint injuries may make popping sounds when they bear weight. If your horse is very lame or reluctant to bear weight, a more serious injury might have occurred.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice any lameness or have any other concern.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you do not notice lameness.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and their limbs. Focus on the stifle area of the limb. Gently pull the horse toward you into weight bearing and keep one hand on the stifle or hip. Determine whether you can feel where the sound is coming from. Assess your horse for lameness. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

If the horse is also lame, has reduced performance, if it is reluctant to walk or bear weight on a limb, or there is heat or swelling anywhere on a limb, your vet should examine the horse.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to examine the limb or affected area if it is causing the horse excessive distress. Wait for your vet to perform an examination.

your vet's role

After observing the horse move and listening to the sound you are describing, your vet thoroughly evaluates the limb and performs a lameness exam.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Is the horse limping or lame?
  • Is the problem consistent or inconsistent?
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • Do you notice any swelling or abnormality in the limb?
  • Do you notice digital pulse and heat in the foot?
  • 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
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further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP