Hernia in Horses

Cecilia de Cardenas
Oct 02, 2008
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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.

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