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Swollen limbs can be a sign of a condition known as equine lymphedema. In draft horses, this condition is known as chronic, progressive lymphedema (CPL), which is unique to them. These may lead to unproductive horses or early euthanization if not managed properly. Equine lymphedema is the accumulation of lymph fluid, resulting in the acute or chronic swelling of the extremities. It is most commonly seen in the limbs of horses. A symptom of lymphedema is swelling, noticeably in the front or hind quarters. The swelling generally starts at the coronary band and moves up to the elbow in the front leg and up to the hock in the hind leg, often up into the groin area. It can also appear in other parts of the body such as under the jaw and abdomen. The limb may display leaking of fluid, pus, or blood; hair loss, open sores, scabs or redness. Inflammation (swelling) is also known as “stocking up.” Lymphedema often compromises the immune system, and severe, chronic cases can be life threatening. CPL in draft horses may also include specific characteristics such as folds in the skin and/or nodules.


It Can Be Managed

Equine lymphedema is not well understood. The prevailing consensus is there isn’t much you can do, especially when the limb continues to swell or remains swollen. However, there is a solution.

The answer to managing a horse’s lymphedema includes a combination of protocols, including a special grooming technique, wrapping (the most important), massage, exercise, and the proper use of the right compression stockings. The protocol that seems to work best is a complete decongestive therapy. This course of action requires education, commitment, and passion.

An estimated 150,000 to 450,000 horses in the U.S. alone may have lymphedema. We have received inquiries from abroad, as well, yet only a handful of professionals are trained to manage this condition.



“We are passionate about what we do. This academy was created to help raise awareness about this condition and to ultimately help the horses who suffer. By training equine professionals across the States and beyond to recognize and manage the condition, we can help more horses and their owners.”


Through our one-of-a-kind certification programs, HEAL provides equine professionals the knowledge and skill necessary to manage this condition.


Horse Owners often feel helpless. They may spend thousands of dollars in vet bills over time and not see results. It pains them to see their horse suffer.


Rescues see many horses with lymphedema due to the despair of the horse owner who can no longer care for her horse. 



The Face of Lymphedema

This is a poignant story about Tom, a draft horse who had chronic, progressive lymphedema, and the people who worked to save him. It’s about the legacy and the hoof prints he left behind to raise awareness concerning the plight of equine lymphedema. It is our dream that Tom will inspire hope in owners and promote a higher standard of living and functionality to the horse that has been inflicted with this chronic, progressive disease.


News and Events

Thank you for your support.

We couldn’t have come this far without you.


HEAL will be participating in the FSMTA Mid-Atlantic Chapter Conference

March 29-31, Ocean City, Maryland




Be Part of the Research


HEAL is gathering data and conducting research to better understand this condition and the factors that contribute to it. If you have experienced lymphedema in your horse or one that you’ve cared for, please complete our brief assessment. Your answers will help us continue to learn and identify better management protocols. 


The markers on the map indicate the areas from which we’ve had responses to the assessment. This is a global problem. 



Using your mouse, click and drag the map to see all areas. You can also use the wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out.


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