Last updated

Thumps is a condition that occurs in horses where there is an irregular spasming of the diaphragm, [1] usually caused by dehydration due to fluid loss and related abnormal electrolyte levels, most often blood calcium. It is essentially a case of the hiccups, but in horses it usually has a more serious underlying cause than in the corresponding human condition. For that reason, a case of thumps requires immediate veterinary attention. It is most often seen in horses used for endurance riding but also occurs in other equine athletes. Clinical signs include sound coming from the horse's abdomen, which also can be seen contracting with the animal's heartbeat, but at rates of 40-50 times per minute. The condition was first identified by a veterinarian in 1831. [2]

Horse Domesticated four-footed mammal from the equine family

The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus. It is an odd-toed ungulate mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature, Eohippus, into the large, single-toed animal of today. Humans began domesticating horses around 4000 BC, and their domestication is believed to have been widespread by 3000 BC. Horses in the subspecies caballus are domesticated, although some domesticated populations live in the wild as feral horses. These feral populations are not true wild horses, as this term is used to describe horses that have never been domesticated, such as the endangered Przewalski's horse, a separate subspecies, and the only remaining true wild horse. There is an extensive, specialized vocabulary used to describe equine-related concepts, covering everything from anatomy to life stages, size, colors, markings, breeds, locomotion, and behavior.

Thoracic diaphragm sheet of internal skeletal muscle

The thoracic diaphragm, or simply the diaphragm, is a sheet of internal skeletal muscle in humans and other mammals that extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm separates the thoracic cavity, containing the heart and lungs, from the abdominal cavity and performs an important function in respiration: as the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the thoracic cavity increases, creating a negative pressure there, which draws air into the lungs.

Electrolyte imbalance, or water-electrolyte imbalance, is an abnormality in the concentration of electrolytes in the body. Electrolytes play a vital role in maintaining homeostasis within the body. They help to regulate heart and neurological function, fluid balance, oxygen delivery, acid–base balance and much more. Electrolyte imbalances can develop by the following mechanisms: excessive ingestion; diminished elimination of an electrolyte; diminished ingestion; or excessive elimination of an electrolyte.

Related Research Articles

Horse teeth

Horse teeth refers to the dentition of equine species, including horses and donkeys. Equines are both heterodontous and diphyodontous, which means that they have teeth in more than one shape, and have two successive sets of teeth, the deciduous and permanent sets.

Swayback refers to abnormal bent-back postures in humans and in quadrupeds, especially horses. It can cause severe pain because of the straining of the muscles.

Colic in horses is defined as abdominal pain, but it is a clinical symptom rather than a diagnosis. The term colic can encompass all forms of gastrointestinal conditions which cause pain as well as other causes of abdominal pain not involving the gastrointestinal tract. The most common forms of colic are gastrointestinal in nature and are most often related to colonic disturbance. There are a variety of different causes of colic, some of which can prove fatal without surgical intervention. Colic surgery is usually an expensive procedure as it is major abdominal surgery, often with intensive aftercare. Among domesticated horses, colic is the leading cause of premature death. The incidence of colic in the general horse population has been estimated between 4 and 10 percent over the course of their lifetime. Clinical signs of colic generally require treatment by a veterinarian.

Laminitis disease that affects the feet of hooved animals

Laminitis is a disease that affects the feet of ungulates and is found mostly in horses and cattle. Clinical signs include foot tenderness progressing to inability to walk, increased digital pulses, and increased temperature in the hooves. Severe cases with outwardly visible clinical signs are known by the colloquial term founder, and progression of the disease will lead to perforation of the coffin bone through the sole of the hoof or being unable to stand up requiring euthanasia.

Navicular syndrome, often called navicular disease, is a syndrome of lameness problems in horses. It most commonly describes an inflammation or degeneration of the navicular bone and its surrounding tissues, usually on the front feet. It can lead to significant and even disabling lameness.

Equine exertional rhabdomyolysis is a syndrome that damages the muscle tissue in horses. It is usually due to overfeeding a horse carbohydrates and appears to have a genetic link.

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), commonly called Triple E or sleeping sickness, is a disease caused by a zoonotic mosquito vectored Togavirus that is present in North, Central, and South America, and the Caribbean. EEE was first recognized in Massachusetts, United States, in 1831, when 75 horses died mysteriously of viral encephalitis. Epizootics in horses have continued to occur regularly in the United States. It can also be identified in donkeys and zebras. Due to the rarity of the disease, its occurrence can cause economic impact in relation to the loss of horses and poultry. EEE is found today in the eastern part of the United States and is often associated with coastal plains. It can most commonly be found in East Coast and Gulf Coast states. In Florida, about one to two human cases are reported a year, although over 60 cases of equine encephalitis are reported. In years in which conditions are favorable for the disease, the number of equine cases is over 200. Diagnosing equine encephalitis is challenging because many of the symptoms are shared with other illnesses and patients can be asymptomatic. Confirmations may require a sample of cerebral spinal fluid or brain tissue, although CT scans and MRI scans are used to detect encephalitis. This could be an indication that the need to test for EEE is necessary. If a biopsy of the cerebral spinal fluid is taken, it is sent to a specialized laboratory for testing.

Stallion male horse that has not been castrated

A stallion is a male horse that has not been gelded (castrated). Stallions follow the conformation and phenotype of their breed, but within that standard, the presence of hormones such as testosterone may give stallions a thicker, "cresty" neck, as well as a somewhat more muscular physique as compared to female horses, known as mares, and castrated males, called geldings.

Recurrent airway obstruction, also known as broken wind, heaves, wind-broke horse, or sometimes by the term usually reserved for humans, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or disorder (COPD) – it is a respiratory disease or chronic condition of horses involving an allergic bronchitis characterised by wheezing, coughing and laboured breathing.

Equine polysaccharide storage myopathy is an inheritable glycogen storage disease of horses that causes exertional rhabdomyolysis. It is most commonly associated with heavy horse breeds and the American Quarter Horse. While incurable, PSSM can be managed with appropriate diet and exercise. There are currently 2 subtypes, known as Type 1 PSSM and Type 2 PSSM.

Stable vices Undesirable behaviors in horses resulting from captivity

Stable vices are stereotypies of equines, especially horses. They are usually undesirable habits that often develop as a result of being confined in a stable with insufficient exercise, boredom, hunger, excess energy or isolation. They present a management issue, not only leading to facility damage from chewing, kicking, and repetitive motion, but also lead to health consequences for the animal if not addressed. They also raise animal welfare concerns.

Neonatal isoerythrolysis blood disorder in newborn kittens and foals

Neonatal isoerythrolysis, also known as hemolytic icterus or hemolytic anemia, is a disease most commonly seen in kittens and foals, but has also been reported in puppies. It occurs when the mother has antibodies against the blood type of the newborn.

Equine metabolic syndrome

Equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), is an endocrinopathy affecting horses and ponies. It is of primary concern due to its link to obesity, insulin resistance, and subsequent laminitis. There are some similarities in clinical signs between EMS and pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, also known as PPID or Cushing's disease, and some equines may develop both, but they are not the same condition, having different causes and different treatment.

Lameness is an abnormal gait or stance of an animal that is the result of dysfunction of the locomotor system. In the horse, it is most commonly caused by pain, but can be due to neurologic or mechanical dysfunction. Lameness is a common veterinary problem in racehorses, sport horses, and pleasure horses. It is one of the most costly health problems for the equine industry, both monetarily for the cost of diagnosis and treatment, and for the cost of time off resulting in loss-of-use.

A hiccup is an involuntary contraction of the diaphragm that may repeat several times per minute. The hiccup is an involuntary action involving a reflex arc. Once triggered, the reflex causes a strong contraction of the diaphragm followed about a quarter of a second later by closure of the vocal cords, which results in the "hic" sound.

Colitis X, equine colitis X or peracute toxemic colitis is a catchall term for various fatal forms of acute or peracute colitis found in horses, but particularly a fulminant colitis where clinical signs include sudden onset of severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, shock, and dehydration. Death is common, with 90% to 100% mortality, usually in less than 24 hours. The causative factor may be Clostridium difficile, but it also may be caused by other intestinal pathogens. Horses under stress appear to be more susceptible to developing colitis X, and like the condition pseudomembranous colitis in humans, an association with prior antibiotic use also exists. Immediate and aggressive treatment can sometimes save the horse, but even in such cases, 75% mortality is considered a best-case scenario.

Skin cancer, or neoplasia, is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in horses, accounting for 45 to 80% of all cancers diagnosed. Sarcoids are the most common type of skin neoplasm and are the most common type of cancer overall in horses. Squamous-cell carcinoma is the second-most prevalent skin cancer, followed by melanoma. Squamous-cell carcinoma and melanoma usually occur in horses greater than 9-years-old, while sarcoids commonly affect horses 3 to 6 years old. Surgical biopsy is the method of choice for diagnosis of most equine skin cancers, but is contraindicated for cases of sarcoids. Prognosis and treatment effectiveness varies based on type of cancer, degree of local tissue destruction, evidence of spread to other organs (metastasis) and location of the tumor. Not all cancers metastasize and some can be cured or mitigated by surgical removal of the cancerous tissue or through use of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Theiler's disease is a viral hepatitis that affects horses. It is one of the most common cause of acute hepatitis and liver failure in the horse.

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction

Pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), or equine Cushing's disease, is an endocrine disease affecting the pituitary gland of horses. It is most commonly seen in older animals, and is classically associated with the formation of a long, wavy coat (hirsutism) and chronic laminitis.

<i>Parascaris equorum</i> species of worm

Parascaris equorum is a species of ascarid that is the equine roundworm. Amongst horse owners, the parasites are colloquially called "Ascarids". This is a host-specific helminth intestinal parasite that can infect horses, donkeys, and zebras. Horses up to six months of age are the most susceptible to infection. After this time, infection rates begin to decline and is extremely uncommon in horses over twelve months of age. It cannot infect humans or other animals. It is yellow-white in color, and females can become as large as 15 inches (38 cm) in length. Found worldwide, P. equorum is one of the most difficult equine parasites to kill, requiring larger doses of more powerful anthelmintic medications than are needed for other equine parasites.


  1. LaMarra, Tom (September 19, 2014). "Top Filly Princess of Sylmar Retired". Blood-Horse. Retrieved 6 November 2014.
  2. University of Illinois College of Agriculture (August 5, 2008). "Equine 'Thumps' Are More than Mere Hiccups". The Horse. Retrieved 6 November 2014.