Pedunculated lipoma

Anyone lost a horse to colic due to one of these fatty tumors? They grow on a stalk and can flip and strangle small intestine, causing a complete obstruction. More common in older geldings. Did you notice any symptoms/behaviors in hindsight, especially under saddle, in the months prior to this happening? Did you have a necropsy to confirm, or was vet quite sure that was the problem?

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A friend lost her horse to this. He did exhibit odd symptoms for some time prior to the colic. Very mild discomfort that could never quite be identified.

Then a sudden severe colic. Died on the table.

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I lost my 23-year-old mare to colic from a large strangulating lipoma last year. It was awful.

In hindsight there may have been the mildest signs over the month prior to her death - and believe me I’ve been wracking my brains for any signs I could have missed.

  1. Once or twice in the month prior she seemed anxious and hot under saddle. Nothing I could put my finger on, just revved up more than usual and tense, as opposed to her usual forwardness.

  2. She nipped me on the arm about a week before she died - totally out of the blue and totally out of character for her. I just assumed I had been giving her too many treats by hand.

  3. She came in one day with a wet spot on her flank as if she had been biting at it. It was mid-summer and ungodly hot and I assumed she had a bug bite there. I never saw any sign of her biting her flanks after that.

It helps slightly that the vets referred to it as a “ticking time bomb” and said there was literally no way to know it was there, and nothing we could have done had we known. But still I second-guess myself every day, wondering what I could have done differently.

In our case the lipoma was confirmed by necroscopy.


I lost my 29 year old gelding to this (suspected cause not confirmed) He seemed to be fine earlier in the day and was eating normally, urinating and normal bowel movements. I was working outside and noticed he was laying down which was unusual for him. I went over to him and was talking to him. He got up, took a few steps and went down again and started thrashing. I called the vet and they came quickly. She examined him and said he had no gut sounds and said that she suspected a strangulated lipoma and surgery would be the only option and that she wasn’t sure he’d even make it to the clinic which was about 1 1/2 hours away. I made the decision to euthanize him as he was in horrible pain. We let him lay down and I stroked his neck as he passed.

I also wondered if I missed some sign and the only thing I could think of was that maybe he was quieter than normal but everything else was normal.

This one was harder for me than the planned euthanasia for my 30 yr old mare. I had time to think about that one and talk to my vet and discuss it. We were able to give her a very peaceful passing.

Thanks, everyone. I lost my 24 year old gelding a month ago to colic, and vet suspected a lipoma (did not have necropsy). It happened so fast, I’ve been reviewing everything to see if I could have missed anything. For about 5 months prior, he did have occasional “spook/scoot” episodes while I was riding him…which was out of character for him. Since these tumors can move around with movement of the horse, I’m wondering now if he felt a sudden pain or cramp and that’s what caused the behavior. He did not have any signs of colicing prior to this.

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I lost my beloved heart horse to a highly suspected Pedunculated lipoma. Looking back I wish I noticed signs, but he was a VERY stoic horse that never said no. IE raced 45 times, retired sound; when he had Potomac Horse Fever what tipped me off was he suddenly started backing away from me at the mounting block, very abnormal behavior for him. He had always been a bit of a picky eater, but a couple months leading up to his colic when he would eat, he would stop and act as though something was bothering him, then within seconds/minutes go back to eating. At the time I was working nights, busy with small kids…not sure if I could have truly prevented what was to happen though. The morning I found him, he had likely been colicing for hours. HR 140s, had rubbed his face/sides raw in places. To this day I feel terrible about his last moments. From the vet standpoint putting him through the ride to the clinic would have be inhumane, so we euthanized.


I lost my old man to an assumed strangulation lipoma. He seemed his normal old self and then poof, extreme pain and misery. My vet told me there is frequently not a single clue prior to the emergency situation.


That’s my only comfort in all this - that my mare was truly happy and healthy right up until her last day. I wish I could have saved her the pain of that day too.


It was comforting to me to hear everyone’s stories. As conscientious horse people we try to make our horse’s lives as comfortable and happy as we can and when things go wrong it is heartbreaking.

When helping other’s horses or any animal that is in crisis I can be calmer and think more clearly than when it is my own. Those of us keeping animals into their golden years know we will at some time be faced with difficult decisions and extreme sadness.

We should all take comfort in knowing that we gave our horses love and did the best we could for them. They are all now at peace and are pain free.


I lost a gelding to a strangulating lipoma 13 years ago. He was a 19 year old gelding I had owned for 9 years, who had never had any health issues previously.

No symptoms until he presented with colic like symptoms one day around noon time. He had been fine at breakfast that morning. He was in an incredible amount of pain, getting up and down, violently rolling, almost casting himself underneath his paddock fence.

We chose not to do a necropsy, but the vet felt very certain in his diagnosis.

I was told when it happened that it was something usually seen in horses in their late teens/ early 20s.

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My gelding died from a suspected strangulated lipoma. We did not do a necropsy so can’t say that for sure but the vet was pretty positive that was what he had. He had no symptoms at all beforehand. The first thing the barn owner noticed was him lifting his lip occasionally so we gave him some banamine and called the vet. He was euthanized 3 hours later. His pain level went off the chart. Sorry for your loss OP. It’s heartbreaking whenever we lose a horse but to have it come in such a traumatic way out of the blue makes it even worse.


I lost my 28 yr old gelding two weeks ago, and I suspect it was this. He was fine the day before, had his soaked alfalfa pellet mush late afternoon and hay overnight. Another boarder spotted him rolling at 6 a.m.
Vet was out by 7 a.m. Banamine had no effect on the pain. He had badly bruised eyes, head trauma. My goal was to just end the pain asap.
Looking back, he did not poop during our midday ride the day before. He always did, 20 minutes in, you could set your watch.


I’m reliving the whole thing again reading these, but at the same time it’s good to know I’m not alone. I’m always the one who’s there in an emergency for someone else and have made the decision to euthanize many animals over time, but have never lost one of my own in an emergency. That’s what’s so awful about this condition - the utter shock and suddenness. I lost my mare in Sept and months later it is still very raw.

BO found her thrashing in her stall at 7:15am- vet was there within 40 minutes and she responded quickly to pain meds, but broke through them quickly too. Responded better to second dose and they were still holding when I arrived at 8:30. Ultrasound showed multiple loops but she was stable and alert, so vet thought it was worth a trip to the large animal clinic (I was clear that surgery was not going to be an option). She arrived at the clinic by 10:30 and by 12:30 we were saying goodbye.

So fast. And so shocking in a horse that looked and acted half her age. We really thought she had years left. In some ways it’s better than watching them slowly decline and wondering when it’s time to let go, but in other ways it’s so painful it takes your breath away.


The morning that my gelding passed, when I gave him his grain he pinned his ears back as he always did and gave me a stink eye.

I hugged all my animals today after reading this thread. They are precious to us!


A friend’s horse. He was fine. Then one day he colicked and it was bad. She hauled him to the hospital, and even though his numbers didn’t look great, she opted for surgery. Opened him up and put him down. There was so much dead intestine it wasn’t worth trying to resection. :cry:

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With my mare they were able to tap fluid in her belly and check for something that’s a good indicator of how much necrosis there is. I would never have put her through surgery at her age anyway, but from the fluid they were able to tell me with certainty that even with surgery the prognosis was dire.

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I lost my 25 year old mare to this about a month ago. No signs prior. BO’s husband found her caught in the fence, pulled her out and she ran immediately to her shelter and got cast in there. She improved with banamine, then got worse again. Improved again with banamine, but in hind sight that last improvement was that she had ruptured. She had been laying down in the stall and then just popped up. I took her for a walk where she didn’t try to roll, brushed her, she wanted to eat the mints in my pocket, and thought that maybe just maybe we were through it. Three hours later her heart rate was in the 140s, she was sweating profusely, and her breathing was awful. We put her down.

I honestly thought she had years left. She was healthy, her coat was shiny, she was her normal evil self…it was very sudden. Of course now I’m very paranoid about my other horses.


A friend had a gelding in his early to mid 20s whose colic death was probably from a strangulating lipoma. He had a colic bad enough to get the vet out, was treated and was more comfortable and eating a little, and then within the next day he was miserable again. There was little that could have been done, so she let him go.

She had very kindly leased him to me a couple of times, and he was one of the horses who made my return to riding possible.

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I know what you mean about being paranoid. I am now leasing a 20yo who is very similar to the mare I lost. Super stoic, generous to a fault, would never say no to anything…he too appears to have many good years ahead of him. Fingers crossed. My heart couldn’t take going though this twice.


I and the vet were both reasonably sure that was the cause of the colic that killed my 33 year old thoroughbred. He was tough as nails, had never coliced in the 25 years I had owned him. He did have Cushings and was starting to have some real joint issues due to an injury that had caused his retirement a decade before. But his digestive tract had never been a concern. In hindsight, something had me worried the day before, so worried I left work at lunch and came home and checked him. But he seemed fine, he seemed fine when I fed him that evening. Quiet, but he often was.
When I found him in the morning he had been in agony for some time, like several other horses on this thread: violent rolling to the point of bruising his face. We couldn’t keep him on his feet. He blew through the vet’s painkillers like they didn’t exist. A quick rectal exam showed a severe twist. He was already in shock, and I doubt the euthanasia drugs sped the end up by more than a few hours.
It seems to be a particularly fast and violent form of colic and unavoidable. But, I’ll never really forgive myself for it either.

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