Why Do Horses Experience Stocking Up?

We should Understand Stocking Up in Horses. Edema and swelling in a horse’s legs, particularly in the hind limbs, can arise from a variety of factors. Common causes of stocking up include insufficient exercise, an imbalanced diet with excessive protein or energy, diseases such as viral arteritis, and heavy parasitic infestations.

Understanding Stocking Up in Horses

This article explores the role of circulation, symptoms, prevention, treatment, and the importance of addressing underlying issues when dealing with stocking up in horses.

Causes of Stocking Up

Stocking up can be triggered by several factors, including inadequate exercise, dietary imbalances, specific diseases like viral arteritis, and a heavy burden of parasitic infestations. Understanding these contributing factors is essential in addressing and preventing stocking up in horses.

The Role of Circulation

Typically, when a horse is in motion, the spongy frog in their hoof aids in circulation, facilitating the movement of blood and lymph from the feet back to the heart. However, when a horse remains stationary for prolonged periods, there is an increased risk of venous congestion in the lower limbs, leading to stocking up.

Symptoms of Stocking Up

Stocking up presents with noticeable swelling in the lower limbs, often with the characteristic ability to pit when pressed with fingers. In severe cases, the skin may become cracked and secrete serum if left untreated.

Preventing Stocking Up

Preventing stocking up involves maintaining a well-rounded approach. Regular exercise is essential, as is providing a balanced diet. A well-managed deworming program helps control parasitic infestations. In specific situations, such as long-distance travel or stalling without sufficient exercise, support bandages may be necessary to prevent stocking up.

Treating Stocking Up

Simple cases of stocking up typically resolve swiftly with increased exercise. However, since stocking up often signals an underlying problem, consulting a veterinarian is crucial. A veterinarian may administer a diuretic like furosemide to provide temporary relief and conduct further diagnostic tests to identify and address the root issue.

Investigating the Underlying Issue

In addition to addressing the immediate symptoms, it is essential to assess the horse’s diet for imbalances in energy or protein. Suspected parasitic or kidney disorders may necessitate fecal or urine analysis. Identifying and resolving the underlying problem is vital for long-term management and prevention of stocking up.


Stocking up in a horse’s legs can have various causes and should not be underestimated. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and effective management practices are pivotal in preventing and managing this condition. Consulting a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment is imperative to ensure the well-being of the horse.


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