ABSCESSED SUBMANDIBULAR LYMPH NODE Location:
The submandibular lymph nodes sit between your horse’s lower jawbones. What it is: Pus (made of bacteria and white blood cells) accumulates in a pocket within the lymph node. Look and feel: Normally the lymph nodes will feel like a patch of small lumps and bumps—familiarize yourself with how this area feels on your horse on a normal day. When a lymph node abscesses, you’ll feel a round, hard lump—kind of like a golf ball or ping-pong ball sitting under the skin. In some cases, the abscessed node enlarges and you may see soft swelling in the surrounding tissues. In others, it can be painful to the touch, or come to a head (much like a pimple) as it prepares to burst and drain. Should you worry: If you detect this type of abscess, call your veterinarian for advice. Many abscessed lymph nodes are benign and involve a bacterium that isn’t likely to cause significant problems. The abscess drains and resolves on its own, or your vet will lance it open to speed the process. But there’s always a concern that the bacteria involved could be something more significant, such as streptococcus equi, which causes strangles. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this case; call your vet. PRESSURE BUMP Location: These bumps most commonly appear on your horse’s back, under the saddle area. They can also show up under the cinch or in any other location where tack and gear contacts his skin. What it is: Pressure and friction damage tissue layers deep beneath your horse’s skin. The resulting dead and damaged tissues coalesce to create a pressure bump. Look and feel: Pressure bumps are firm and typically range in size, though rarely get bigger than an almond. You’ll identify them most easily when they’re in an area where saddle pressure is likely to be concentrated, such as on either side of the withers or underneath the seat. These bumps don’t typically cause your horse any pain. Should you worry: These bumps can indicate that your tack doesn’t fit properly. It might be time to check saddle fit or outfit your horse with a pressure-distributing saddle pad. If these bumps become large or begin to lose hair, they can cause discomfort for your horse.
SEROMA Location: A seroma can appear anywhere on your horse’s body, although the most common locations are in the middle of his chest or somewhere on an upper hind leg on either side of his tail. What it is: A seroma is a fluid-filled sac that occurs secondary to direct trauma, such as a kick from another horse. It can start as a hematoma or bruise that reorganizes into a seroma over a period of several days. Look and feel: A seroma feels like a water balloon. It won’t bother your horse much if you push on it. If you notice it during the hematoma phase it may be hard, hot, and painful. Should you worry: Most seromas will resolve on their own, given time and patience. Your vet may lance and drain a large seroma, although this can lead to further problems, such as an infection. →