Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bed Sores, Fetlocks or Hocks

Scabby wounds on the front of the fetlocks and outsides of the hocks are usually “bed sores” that are caused by recurring abrasion when a horse lies down on hard ground or rough bedding.

Classically this is seen in dry lot situations on abrasive gravel or hard dirt. These sores are usually not serious but in some cases can become infected or they can grow to a large size from repeatedly being broken open. In rare cases, a fetlock bed sore can break into the joint, causing a serious joint infection.

The first task is managing the existing wounds. The second is trying to prevent additional wounds by changes in management. If these wounds are severe, worsening, non-healing, or if your horse is lame, you may need to take more aggressive action and will need to involve your vet.


  • What is the best way to protect my horse from these sores?
  • Can I apply fly repellent ointment to the sores?
  • Do you recommend a bed sore or hock boot to protect the area?

    Provide soft bedding or grass for horses to bed down on. Periodically add soft, loose, clean topsoil if possible. You can also protect your horse's fetlocks or hocks with protective wraps or boots.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

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    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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