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Proud flesh explained

Keeping our equine friends safe, and sound isn’t always easy, as we all know many like to Mysteriously get stuck loose a shoe or conveniently cut themselves on thin air hours before they’re off to a greatly anticipated event That you’ve spent months planning and training for.

For years proud flesh has been a time consuming, costly reoccurring battle for many horse owners, even horses cared by the most skilled conscientious owners may still develope proud flesh.


Research has found that horses have the ability to produce granulation tissue in wounds quite rapidly compared to other animals. When granulation tissue grows out and protrudes from the wound, then it is known as proud flesh.

The frustrating, somewhat mysterious nature of this condition makes it a fascinating topic for veterinary researchers to study, the cause is still not fully understood, but factors such as lack of circulation, prolonged inflammatory response, bacterial infections, contamination, and movement are thought to all play a part in the development of proud flesh.

Horse legs also don’t have a small muscle called panniculus carnosus. (the muscle associated with shivering flies off of the body) This muscle helps with wound contraction and it’s absence means that leg wounds take longer to heal as skin edges don’t contract as readily this combined with movement causes the new granulation tissue to tear slowing healing, inciting yet more inflammation and encouraging more granulation tissue to form potentially becoming excessive. Left untreated, the protruding mushroom like crown of granulation tissue can continue to grow many inches beyond the horse’s normal skin surface. The lump of tissue is susceptible to re-injury, which leads to more irritation and inflammation, thereby prolonging the healing process even further. In most cases, proud flesh will not resolve on its own.

Proud flesh is developing if the granulation tissue appears unhealthy (dark red, uneven surface with cracks, crevices and discharge) and begins to protrude beyond the level of the wound edges. Call your vet immediately.

Look out for next weeks blog on prevention, management and cure and how your equine physiotherapist can help with the process

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