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Why Do Horses Have Chestnuts and Ergots on Their Legs?



Why Do Horses Have Chestnuts and Ergots on Their Legs

Many people who own horses or those who have just observed them have noticed strange bumps on their horse’s legs called chestnuts and ergots. These bumps are usually located on the inside of a horse’s front legs and below their knees, and on the back of their legs above their heels. Some horse owners have even gone as far as removing them.

But, have you ever wondered what these unique bumps are and what their purpose is?

What Are Chestnuts?

Chestnuts are raised, scaly growths located on the inside of a horse’s front legs below their knees. While chestnuts may seem like a mystery, they actually serve a practical purpose. Chestnuts are similar to the calluses on the bottom of a human’s foot, helping a horse grip on slippery surfaces like rocks, mud, or uneven terrain. A horse’s chestnuts also contain sweat glands that excrete pheromones- scent hormones that help horses communicate with one another.

What Are Ergots?

Ergots, on the other hand, are harder and more noticeable bumps that sit above a horse’s heels. These oval-shaped protrusions are leftover remnant of horses’ ancestors that helped secure their footing in soft soil, such as sand and mud. Horses that lived in marshy coastal areas or swamps needed these ergots to grip onto the soft soils to move around. Over time, horses’ hooves adapted to their needs, and ergots became less necessary for their survival. However, the remnants still remain on modern equine’s legs.

Are Chestnuts and Ergots Harmful to Horses?

Not at all! Chestnuts and ergots are a natural part of a horse’s physiology, and they pose no risk to their health or well-being. However, removing chestnuts and ergots unnecessary can lead to pain and discomfort for horses, especially if not done correctly. Therefore, chestnuts and ergots should only be removed by a professional veterinarian for health or medical reasons. Removing them solely for cosmetic reasons can result in needless stress and injury.


Understanding the importance of chestnuts and ergots is essential for horses’ proper care and welfare. These unique bumps serve a practical purpose in helping horses grip onto different surfaces, as well as communicate with other horses through scent hormones. While they may look strange to the current human eye, chestnuts and ergots are an essential part of a horse’s natural adaptation over time.

Therefore, before removing any visible bumps or growths, it’s best to seek professional advice from a certified veterinarian.

I am Tommy, an avid equestrian who is passionate about the lifestyle. Writing for an equestrian blog has been a lifelong dream of mine, as I have been around horses my whole life. My mission is to share all the knowledge and experiences I have gathered throughout the years in order to help others reach their goals in this amazing sport. My dedication and enthusiasm towards horses and all things related to them never cease to amaze me!

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