Friday, 13 January 2017

All About ... Swollen Legs

What are they?

As the name suggests the legs are swollen, usually, below the knee or hock.  There can be a number of different reasons and some are more serious!


  • Swelling may be just around the pastern or may extend upwards either side of the flexor tendons 
  • Maybe heat in area 
  • When area pressed temporary depression is sometimes left, indicating fluid in tissues 
  • Some stiffness

  • Infection 
  • Trauma or a wound 
  • Sprain or strain 
  • Oedema,  lack of exercise and standing in stable for long periods causes fluid to build up - this is more common over the winter when horses are stabled for longer periods and the swelling will typically go down with exercise (there is no heat) 
  • Lymphangitis

If the swelled area is hot and the cause is not immediately obvious, for example a small wound, call the vet. 


If the swelling is due to a wound then the area should be cleaned and treated. If the wound is severe the vet will advise and may prescribe antibiotics.  A sprain or strain will require rest.

If swelling is an oedema due to stabling then turnout or exercise should solve the problem.  Cold  hosing will reduce the swelling.  

Lymphangitis will require antibiotics as the infection is within the tissues and lymphatic system.


Regular turnout and/or exercise will lessen chance of swelling in some situation.  However, horses always find something to injure themselves on!

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Until next time!

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