Ok, I realize this is not the most exciting question, but it does “haunt” me at times. My 18 hh Hanoverian has windpuffs on his hind fetlocks, quite large ones. So far they have not caused any issues other than getting bigger when humidity increases, at which time he also “stocks-up” more on his hind legs. I’m supplementing him with Glanzen, SmartFlex Repair, Devil’s Claw and Garlic. After a work out I ice his hind legs as well. Is there anything else I should be doing to keep those windpuffs “in check”?Your input is much appreciated. PF, Arizona
That’s okay, questions don’t have to be exciting to get answered. In fact, sometimes the more common they are the better!
It doesn’t surprise me that an 18 hand horse has windpuffs. “Normal”-sized horses that go into training or that have slightly imperfect conformation can develop these cosmetic blemishes so a big guy like yours hardly stands a chance!
The first rule: do no harm. Remember that windpuffs are harmless fluid swellings of the tendon sheath or joint capsule of the fetlock (ankle) that are not associated with heat, pain or lameness. If your horse has these symptoms, then something else is going on and you need to contact your veterinarian. But if all you’re dealing with is a distended joint or tendon sac, then I would stay conservative in my management. I’ve seen treatments such as drainings and injections cause more harm than good. Basically, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I think you’ve made smart supplement choices: Glanzen for hoof and coat health, SmartFlex Repair for joint and soft tissue health, Devil’s Claw for inflammation (and pain) and Garlic. Glanzen is loaded with omega 3 fatty acids from flax seed, but you could experiment with omega 3s from fish oil to see if you get any more of an anti-inflammatory response.
Icing or cold hosing after a workout sounds like a good practice. Bandaging will usually tighten up the legs, too. Have you experimented with topical products? Test a small area first to make sure your horse doesn’t react, then see if there are any poultices, liniments or other topicals that help reduce the swelling.
Unfortunately, all of these treatments temporarily shrink the puffiness, at best. Probably the best thing you can do for windpuffs long-term is turn your horse out for as long as possible. Standing in a stall will definitely cause fluid to pool in his extremities, leading to “stocking up” and enlarged windpuffs. But if he can spend all day (and all night!) walking around, a lot of that extra fluid will move back into the circulation. Bottom line: don’t stress too much about it—your horse isn’t!