Ergots and Chestnuts: Understanding & Care of Your Horse’s

chestnuts on horses

As a horse owner, it is important to understand the various physical features of your equine partner. Two common features that often cause confusion among horse owners are chestnuts and ergots. Chestnuts are located on the lower legs of horses, while ergots are found on the back of their fetlock joints. While these features may seem insignificant, they can provide insight into your horse’s overall health and well-being.

What are Chestnuts on a Horse?

Chestnuts are a natural and unique characteristic of horses. They are found on the inside of the horse’s legs, just above the knee on the forelegs, and below the hock on the hind legs. Chestnuts vary in size, shape, and texture from horse to horse, but they are typically oval-shaped and covered in a layer of hair. They can be light or dark in color, and some horses may have multiple chestnuts on each leg.

While chestnuts may seem like an odd feature, they serve a purpose. Chestnuts on horses are actually remnants of the horse’s evolutionary past. They are believed to be vestigial remnants of the pads on the feet of the horse’s ancestors, which helped them to move quietly and stealthily through forests.

Should You Remove Chestnuts on Horses?

Whether or not to remove chestnuts on horses is a matter of personal preference. Chestnuts do not harm the horse, and they serve no functional purpose in modern horses. However, some horse owners prefer to remove them for aesthetic reasons or because they believe that removing them can make grooming easier.

If you do choose to remove your horse’s chestnuts, it is important to do so carefully and with the proper equipment. Chestnuts are attached to the skin and removing them can be painful for the horse if not done correctly. You should use a sharp knife or a pair of clippers to carefully remove the chestnut without cutting into the horse’s skin.

Ergots vs. Chestnuts: What’s the Difference?

Ergots are another type of growth that is found on the legs of horses. They are smaller and harder than chestnuts and are located on the back of the horse’s fetlock joint. Ergots are believed to be the remnants of the horse’s dewclaws, which were once functional digits on the horse’s ancestors.

While chestnuts are a normal and natural feature of horses, ergots can cause problems for horses. If left to grow too long, they can become sharp and irritate the horse’s skin, causing discomfort or even injury. In some cases, ergots may need to be removed to prevent these problems.

How Do You Get Rid of Ergots on Horses?

If your horse’s ergots are causing discomfort or becoming too long, you can remove them yourself or have a veterinarian do it for you. It is important to use proper equipment and techniques when removing ergots to avoid injuring the horse.

To remove ergots, you should use a pair of garden trimmers or hoof nippers to carefully cut them off. It is important to avoid cutting into the horse’s skin or causing any unnecessary discomfort. After removing the ergots, you should clean the area with a disinfectant and apply a soothing ointment to prevent irritation.


It is important for horse owners to understand the difference between chestnuts and ergots and to know how to remove them safely and effectively. Removing chestnuts and ergots can be done for aesthetic reasons or to prevent discomfort or injury to the horse, but it should always be done carefully and with proper equipment.

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