Hernia in Horses

Equine Hernia

A hernia is one of many afflictions that can affect foals during birth. There are two types of hernia that a foal can suffer from, both of which may go by unnoticed until they have grown a bit more. They are caused by some type of defect in the wall of the abdomen, either affecting the umbilical area or the inguinal canal — a passage in the anterior abdominal wall. This is a congenital defect, one that should be repaired as soon as possible, as it poses a host of health problems for the horse.

Symptoms and Types

  • Umbilical Hernia
    • Appears during first six weeks of life
    • A rotund swelling in the abdominal area
    • Ring felt underneath the skin
  • Inguinal Hernia
    • Enlarged or weakened inguinal ring
    • Swelling in the inguinal area and, in males, near the scrotum
    • As time passes, the swelling will become larger



Umbilical hernias are due to a congenital birth defect. This defect can cause an abscess to form in the horse’s umbilical cord or weaken its abdominal wall, both of which can cause a hernia. Inguinal hernias, on the other hand, are a result of an increased pressure in the abdomen due to a difficult birthing and/or an enlarged inguinal ring — found at the entrance and the exit of the inguinal canal.


It is not difficult to diagnose a hernia, at least with the help of a veterinarian. At times, foals do not begin to display symptoms until they are older. A veterinarian can diagnose a hernia within minutes by examining the horse’s abdomen.

inguinal canal

The opening in the wall of the abdomen from where the testes move into the scrotum

inguinal hernia

A condition in which the bowels protrude through a thin area of the groin


The sac that holds the testes; may also be referred to as the scrotal sac


The condition of having a part of a body part protruding through the tissue that would normally cover it


To make something wider


A localized infection, usually a lesion filled with pus. Can be large or small in size.


In veterinary terms, used to refer to the front of the body.

abdominal wall

The abdominal wall is a group of bones, muscles, and vital tissues that make up the wall around the organs in the abdomen. Inside these bones, muscles, and tissues is a cavity, and the cavity is what houses the vital organs found inside the abdomen. The abdominal wall is vital for protection of these organs.


The device that is used in bloodless castration; small bands

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