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Hock Swelling – Thoroughpin or Something More Serious?

I have a 3 yr old mare that has developed a swollen hock on the right back leg. She is not lame, there is no heat, and there is swelling in the hock. The swelling is soft and feels like there is fluid. It seems to me that if it were bone or tendon issues then there would also be lameness. I have been hosing the leg down with cold water and I have also put liniments and DMSO on the leg for several days now. The swelling has gone down a little but not a lot. I have pictures to show and I was not sure if she may have Thoroughpin. What do you recommend as being the best treatment for Thoroughpin? What are your thoughts on injections or removal of the fluid? As I am not sure exactly what is wrong. I am trying to research and learn about possibilities of what might be wrong. Thank you for your time. JM, Tennessee

Dear JM,

First, I recommend you check out the page that I wrote specifically about Thoroughpin. It defines this condition as a cosmetic blemish of the hock area that consists of swelling but no heat or pain, as you describe. However, just to be sure there’s nothing more serious going on, I recommend having a veterinarian examine your mare. Because the risk factors for Thoroughpin may also be risk factors for more serious conditions such as arthritis, tendinitis and other lamenesses, it will be helpful to have a vet’s opinion on the matter.

When it comes to treatments for Thoroughpin, less may be more. That is, because the swelling is a cosmetic blemish and not an actual cause of lameness or discomfort, you may be better off sticking with the conservative approach you’ve already taken vs more aggressive approaches such as injections or fluid drainage. These all run the risk of infection or at the very least inflammation and down-time so I say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” One of my horses has a thoroughpin on one hind leg (probably from kicking the stall) and I notice two things improve the swelling: cold weather and MSM.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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6 comments on “Hock Swelling – Thoroughpin or Something More Serious?
  1. andrea says:

    My 3 year old has the same problem. I had a set of films taken. Found out that there was significant degeneration in her hock joint which required injections. For some reason, she started to fuse before even doing any work. She is good now.

  2. vicki vogel says:

    I would also have asked if this horse is living most of it’s day in a stall or pasture? I found taking my horse off pasture helped

  3. Brenda says:

    I was also wondering about this problem? Taking out of the pasture helped? Did that horse have swelling in the hock? Was the horse experiencing pain?

  4. Brenda says:

    I am having problems with my horse’s hock too. Seems to be sore. Where should I start?

  5. Courtney Baker says:

    My horse had this exact disease. i read somewhere that it can be hereditary. He got the swelling drained and steriod injections. it went down for 2 months. i think that he bumped it again. being stalled improves the effects

  6. Trinity says:

    my Arab has the same problem but she slid on a piece of bored and then we she went to go run again she couldn’t :( so now she is on rest.i put DMSO on it and then wrapped it with vet wrap.

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