Lumps or Bumps FAQ’S


“My horse has a rub on either side of his spine therefore could the lumps be due to the saddle…?”


I recently asked you a question concerning the lumps on my horses back. They have not changed since and they are still hard, painless with normal hair coverage. However the three on the one side seem to be flattening out together. Also my horse has a rub on either side of his spine therefore could the lumps be due to the saddle? I have not ridden him since this discovery and am in search of a new saddle. Any more advice would be welcome.

Dr. Jack Sales’ Answer:

HI Jill,
I’m sorry I haven’t had an answer for you on those bumps but it is difficult to get a good idea of the cause of these bumps without a good examination. Since you have noticed rub marks on either side of the spine and some of the bumps have changed shape and come together I think it is very possible that the saddle has caused them. If this is the case, and you have not ridden since noticing them, they should go away on their own within a reasonable period of time. There are some breeds of horses that develop nodules under the skin that can get quite large and are similar to what you describe. If these bumps do not go away soon, I would suggest that you have them examined by your Vet. I think that looking for a better fitting saddle is also a very good idea. There are a few web sites that deal with proper saddle fit that might be worth checking into. Good Luck.


“Should I keep massaging the sore spots – or could it make it worse…?”

Hi- I just received a 9 year old QTR gelding – a rescue of sorts. About 100 lbs under weight. According to past owners – he took a tumble about 4 months ago in a field and has had swelling around his withers since then. Past owners say the swelling has gone way down with massage, but I’m looking for advice of my own. Several lumps in front of the shoulder and just in front of the wither, worse on one side (one side has 3 distinct lumps that the owner said was ONE big lump). All of them are soft, are putting off heat, and are painful. Someone else has looked at the horse and wondered if the cartilage has separated from the bone? I’m thinking of having him x-rayed and maybe a trip to the chiropractor. Should I keep massaging the sore spots, or could that make it worse? He shows no signs of spinal injury; flexion is good in all 4 legs. Good balance, no staggers, good even muscle control in the hindquarters etc. Any ideas? According to the former owner one vet said they tried to drain the lumps and there was no fluid. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

Dr. Jack Sales’ Answer:

Hi Darla,

The lumps that you are describing would most likely be from

contusions or bruising of the area, with the possibility that some areas may be associated with vertebral spineous processes that have been fractured. The fact that the swelling is going down means that healing is taking place slowly. I would think that it would be a good idea to have a Vet check it out and x ray the suspicious areas, if practical. This way you can determine if there is any bone involvement, or not, and how the healing process is coming along. Massaging of the areas should not be harmful unless the horse shows excessive soreness in the area. I hope this helps.


a bump slightly to the left of his spine about 2 inches back from his withers… it started to shed out hair in clumps… the area was bleeding and had a flap of skin on it and now is an open wound…”

My horse developed a bump slightly to the left of his spine about 2 inches back from his withers. After several weeks it started to shed out hair in clumps and was bald with black and pink skin exposed (he’s a bay) I treated it to keep it from getting too dried out and was sad that it looked as though it would only grow back damaged with white hair. However, yesterday after bathing him I noticed that the area was bleeding and had a flap of skin on it and now is an open wound. I have no idea what it is and think it may have been caused by a shoulder guard because it seems to be on the same area as the elastic part of his shoulder guard. He doesn’t wear it anymore, but I am still baffled as to why it took so long to open up and why it shed hair first. I scrubbed the area with betadine and put a good antibiotic (bactroban) on it, but is there more I can do or can you help me to know what caused it?

Dr. Jack Sales’ Answer:

Hi Kate,

It could probably be one of two things that caused this bump. First, and probably most likely, it was caused by the elastic part of the shoulder guard, as you suspect. Skin irritations and injuries can be very slow at developing sometimes, and the scenario that you described is not uncommon. Just so you keep treating it as you are and protect it from further damage, it will probably heal up well and may even come back with normal hair. The second possibility would be that sometimes horses can develop warbles, or grubs, just like cattle. The horse is not the normal host for these parasites, but when they do occur in horses, they can be very slow to break out and heal up. Since this did finally break out, it should heal without a problem. Usually if there is one grub worm, though, there is usually more that might show up, and if they do, there is nothing really that you can do to make them go away any faster unless you get a Vet to lance these small bumps. I hope this helps and good luck.


“bumps are soft not hard or warm and does not cause discomfort to her…”

It not continuous but individual swellings on either side of the backbone and a couple across it. The bumps are soft not hard or warm and does not cause discomfort to her. The bumps seem smaller some days but do not get larger but have been there for about 2 weeks. A couple people thought that another horse may have bitten her but the skin is not broken. I put some liniment on as a suggestion. But not sure what to do. Can you offer any suggestions?

Dr. Jack Sales’ Answer:

Hi Beverly,

The bumps that you are describing could be associated with any number of things. If they were caused by the bite of an insect I would have expected them to go away in less than a week. Even if the bite or a blow caused them from another horse, I would expect them to slowly go away. It sounds as if a Veterinary examination of these areas would be best to determine the exact cause of these particular bumps. I wish I could be of more help. Good luck.


“My horse has swelling on his left front leg along the lymph nodes.”…

There are lumps ranging from the size of a quarter to the size of a pencil eraser that eventually swell up and ooze puss. My vet did a culture and found no bacteria or virus and is at a loss for what to do. Do you have any idea what it might be? He has had this condition for three months now. Once the lump bursts, it scabs over and looks like it heals.

Dr. Kimberly Gryl’s Answer:


Perhaps it is time to do a biopsy of the lumps, preferably at least from 2 different lumps. Often times, in addition to the tissue biopsied, the examiner can find other things embedded deep in the tissues. These can be seen under the microscope, and may be bacteria, fungus, or other things that could not be cultured. Do the lumps bother your horse? Does your horse chew on them, or do they cause lameness?


The lump above the eyes seems to be on the zygomatic arch”…

I am looking at a horse (Appaloosa/Quarter horse) but I am concerned that the bony protrusion above the eyes on both sides of the head are very prominent – like abnormally so. The lump above the eyes seems to be on the zygomatic arch? It is exactly the same on the other side very prominent and noticeable. Am worried about these bony protrusions. He is a four year old.

Dr. Kimberly Gryl’s Answer:


First, how long have the lumps been there? Were they slow-growing or did they just show up? Are they hard or soft?

The picture gives me a general idea of the location, which is always helpful. However, without a close look AND a chance to palpate the lumps, I cannot completely tell you my opinion. Generally, if a bump is on both sides of the body, it stands a good chance that it is a normal variation. That said, lumps may be hard or soft, bony or soft tissue, and composed of many different tissues. The best thing to do, if you’re worried about it, is x-ray it. There would be at least 2 views (1 of each side).



“pea size (some larger some smaller) hard lumps ONLY on the right side of his neck”…

My horse has approxomately pea size (some larger some smaller) hard lumps ONLY on the right side of his neck many are in a line. Some on chest. They are VERY itchy. None anywhere else and they are getting worse. Suggestions have been he is rubbing on the open window in the run in and they are splinters but logically I’m not sure it’s possible. My vet wants to do allergy testing.Wouldnt they be all over? Could it be a parasite i.e. chiggers? He has had them since last winter and I noticed them at the neck opening of his blanket.They’ve gotten better then gotten worse since then?


Dr. Kimberly Gryl’s Answer:

K Jones:

Usually an allergy presents in multiple areas, and on both sides of the body. With the pattern that you are describing, it does sound as if it is more of an irritant, as you described the rubbing on the window. Often times, splinters will cause these lumps that you are describing. They will fester a while, then the splinter may begin to pop out, and you can pull it the rest of the way. Sometimes the body walls off the splinters, and the lumps remain. Parasites are unlikely if you have him on a solid deworming program.


“My horse has a swollen mass on her chest between her front legs about the size of a lime “…

I don’t know where it came from or what to do. Should it be looked at by the vet? What should I put on it and should I keep riding her?


Dr. Jack Sales’ Answer:

Hi Carey,

If you can put pressure on this swelling and it seems to leave a pitting in the swollen lump, then it is simply an area of what is called edema. This is very common in this area and is usually due to some blow or deep irritation to anywhere in the neck or shoulder area, and the swelling eventually collects at this lowest point between the legs. Exercise is helpful to get rid of this swelling, and continuing to ride is not a problem. The swelling will usually go away within a few days. If it is not pitting edema, and it begins to get larger instead of going away over the next few days, you should have a Vet check it out, it could be the start of an abscess (localized infection). I hope this helps and good luck.









4 Responses to "Lumps or Bumps FAQ’S"
  1. Anna Mag says:

    Hello. We have two horse. My brother’s horse is a Tn walker, he is big and about 5 or 6 years old and stays pretty healthy. A few months ago we noticed a spot below his tail on the right side. His tail normally is covering it. It has been a few moths and I recently noticed it was larger. Now, it is about the size of a quarter. It is hard and has normal hair coverage.
    I have a QH. She just turned 12. A week or two ago I noticed a bump/nodule at the top of the stifle where it connects to the flank on that little piece of skin. There is now another about half an inch from the first and they both have open heads and puss. They are a little bigger than an eraser. She doesn’t seem to mind when I touch the area.
    Any idea what these might be? Thank you

  2. Mary branton says:

    My horse has hundreds of little bumps thought was ant bites but found none now they cover his whole body what is it. .. She’s not bothered by them but they’re everywhere

  3. Madison says:

    Okay. My mare who is now eight. On her chest she is breaking out on her chest. She will start scratching so hard her hair will start to come off. I have never had this problem with my other horses. She is only in tall grass for 6 hours total everyday. The bumps are about pea size some are bigger some are smaller. I can’t afford a vet to look at it. I tried to flush them out. With Luke warm water but that did not help. I need something fast because we leave for a show Wednesday and I can’t show her if she looks like she has hives on her chest. Please help

    • edward says:

      It’s almost impossible to diagnose something like this without doing an exam by a qualified vet since there are many possible causes including those that are internal. The best advice we can provide is take her out of the pasture and get the vet out now.


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