Neck Atrophy

Q:I was told by a trainer that my horse has atrophy in her neck that could cause problems later in life. Can you tell me what I may be facing in the future? She is a 4-year-old mare. What, if anything, can be done?

Margo Land

A:It is my experience that atrophy of the musculature of a horse's neck is usually caused by direct impact blunt trauma. The most common cause is a kick from another horse, although it can also occur when a horse runs into a solid obstacle. Sometimes stallions and mares bite foals when placed in a group or herd environment. Although muscle atrophy is the common outcome, I have not seen a functional problem develop later if there were no issues soon after injury. I believe almost all cases of focal muscle atrophy of the neck are blemishes and do not create problems later in life.

About the Author

Jerry B. Black, DVM

Jerry B. Black, DVM, is a veterinarian with Pioneer Equine Hospital Inc. in Oakdale, Calif.

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