The first time you really pay attention to your horse's legs, you may make a strange discovery. Your horse, and every other horse on the planet, has a callous textured growth on the inside of both of his front legs. The growth is located above the knee and may be so small it almost is unnoticeable, or it may be large enough that it sticks out and is plainly visible to anyone who glances at the leg.
The callous type growth on the inside of your horse's leg is called a chestnut. The chestnut is believed to be the remnant of a toe that the horse's ancestors may have had millions of years ago. It is a flaky growth of tough, hardened tissue that serves no function at all for today's horses.
The chestnut grows slowly over time, but it also sloughs off of most horse's legs all by itself without any maintenance. If you do not like looking at the chestnut or your horse has large, noticeable chestnuts, you can simply peel them off of the leg with your fingers. It is easiest to peel the flaky chestnut off right after you have just given the horse a bath, when the chestnut is soft.
Chestnuts do not serve any function and typically do not cause problems other than being something of any eyesore. If you have a problem removing your horse's chestnut, then have your farrier file or clip it off the horse's leg while he is trimming the horse's feet. Lydia F. Gray, DVM, recommends putting petroleum jelly on the chestnut to soften it, waiting a couple of days and then brushing it off while performing regular grooming.
If the chestnut is cut significantly it will bleed. When the injured chestnut heals, it will return to its previous state. You cannot remove the chestnut from the leg completely, and expect regular skin and hair to grow back in its place. Chestnuts grow continuously throughout the horse's entire life.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.