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3neighs 06-27-2009 08:19 PM

Swelling in hind legs
I'm a little concerned about Stella. Yesterday I noticed she was standing in the barn more than usual and when she would walk out to graze she walked very slowly, but didn't appear to be limping. I didn't notice anything unusual physically.
Well, today, after being gone all day, I checked on her when I got home and now her hind legs are noticably swollen from below her hock through her pastern. One leg seems slightly worse than the other. She is still walking strangely and now that I'm focusing on her hind legs they seem stiff. I'm going to go out now to put the hose on them to see if that helps. Any ideas? Things like this always seem to happen on the weekend when I can't get anyone out until Monday. I can post pictures if that will help.

FGRanch 06-27-2009 08:43 PM

Does the horse have sratches?

MacabreMikolaj 06-27-2009 10:02 PM

Barring any physical injury, is she kept in a small space, or do you have a lot of dry dirt or sand? This happened to my mare this spring when she was at a boarding place. She never lamed up, but she sure seemed to "loose" energy, or at least was very reluctant to go faster then a walk when I lunged her to check her gait. Which was shocking because she's an Arab and is always happy to prance and show off.

Both back legs were noticeably swollen, but without heat. One was more swollen then the other. She was kept in a small paddock that was solid mud, dirt and sand. The barn owner said that the fine particles of sand and dirt were irritating her legs and causing swelling. I'm not sure how accurate that was, because cold hosing did nothing for her.

We came home shortly after that because we didn't like the conditions, and once she went back into her big pasture and had a few good gallops, her legs were 110% better. Which makes me believe it was a combination of limited movement and irritants causing her to stock up.

Not sure if that helps at all, but may give you a direction to look.

3neighs 06-27-2009 10:26 PM

Dang, now one of her front ones is affected. Hosing didn't seem to do anything. The hind ones have heat, the front one does not, but it's not as bad as the hinds. They feel fluid filled and she pulls away when I apply pressure to the swollen areas. I've never seen anything like this before and although she doesn't limp or noticably favor any one leg, her movement is definitely affected. Ugh, I'm not going to sleep well tonight.

FehrGround, no scratches.

Macabre, the two horses are on about 3 acres of pasture (two equally divided pastures) normally, but since Wednesday they've been confined to one side as we're having work done in the other pasture. I don't know if an acre and a half is considered a small space. Very little dirt and no mud. Now, I did look in my equine veterinary manual and found a condition simply called "fluid filled legs" brought on by lack of exercise. It's only been a week since I've ridden her and there have been longer periods of time so I just don't know. :?

Thanks for the replies!

Nutty Saddler 06-28-2009 01:15 AM

Fluid filled legs affect the hind legs first , TB's are really prone to this

Two causes - one is caused by a problem with the lymphatic system ( responsible for fluid drainage ) the other is caused by a breakdown in the synovial membrane

TB's often get a breakdown in the synovial membrane which causes the legs ( starting low down ) to fill with leaking synovial fluid ( hence filled leg )

If you massage the lower legs and walk the horse out for about 20mins it should start to go away - it's not normally a problem ( a couple of mine had this condidion ( OTTB's ))

If the swellings don't reduce with work then the lymphatic system may be affected
If you start to get swellings in other places (e.g under the elbow ) where there are lymph glands then you need to consult a vet. Diet has a lot to play in this and an overfeed of protein can be a cause.

RedRoan 06-28-2009 01:38 AM

Maybe the horse is just stocking up? My appaloosa does that especially when he stands around all days... his hind legs seem to swell worse then the front ones some days also.

Horsegma 06-28-2009 08:06 AM

I just had this happen to my 20+ tb/qtr mix mare.

We went on vacation and had to leave the horses confined to an acre and they stood around all day instead of getting their regular exercise.

It was hot and humid also.

When I came home I was shocked at her condition and immediately cold hosed them all down paying extra attention to her back swollen legs and started hand walking her for 10 minutes then increased to 20 minutes.

She is once again fine with her normal exercise.

3neighs 06-28-2009 03:12 PM


It was hot and humid also.
Can the weather have something to do with it? I remember Wed. and Thurs. were very hot and humid and both horses weren't moving very much. Now today it's very breezy and in the 70's and Stella is moving around much more than she has been. The swelling seems to have improved slightly. I will take everyone's advice and walk her some. I was unsure about doing that as she seemed uncomfortable.

Nutty Saddler, could the fact that she's exclusively on pasture have anything to do with it? We've had an extra rainy spring so their pastures have been growing faster than they can eat them down. In fact, my husband had to mow them last night.

Thanks so much everyone for your help. I'm feeling better about it. :D

Nutty Saddler 06-28-2009 03:23 PM

If the swellings are going down as your horse moves then I would point to filled legs because of synovial fluid, the weather could be a factor in that your horse is standing still a lot when it's really hot.

If you have lots of grass growth to the extent that you have to mow it I would keep a sharp eye out for laminitis.

onetoomany 06-28-2009 03:51 PM

Not to ring the alarm bell but make sure she hasn't gotten into any plants and is having a reaction from it. All horses have different tolerance levels, so she may be more sensitive to something than your other horses. Also ticks are bad this year and if she starts spiking a fever or anything else take her to the vet as ehrlichia is a possiblity, it would worry me as she was presenting as lethargic as well.

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