Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Sores, Crusts or Scabs on Hock

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you notice significant swelling or pain at the site.
  • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

Sores, crusts or scabs around the hock area are common in horses. They are often caused by abrasion from hard, dry ground and lack of soft bedding, but can also be caused by direct trauma like kicks from other horses. Usually small wounds here are minor and are not associated with lameness or swelling, but severe ones can become infected, causing other problems. Horses that are down for extended periods, especially on hard ground, are more likely to have sores or scabs here.

There is a normal area of hair loss located on the outside of the hock. This corresponds to the location of a primitive sweat gland, and so is a normal finding that you should see on the opposite hock too.

WHAT TO DO

When in doubt about the significance of any sore here, carefully compare the affected to the more normal hock. Look for swelling, drainage or lameness, all of which suggest a more serious problem, and that you should involve your vet. Assess lameness at the walk.

Examine the horse’s bedding and management, and improve it if possible. Move soft dirt or bedding into the horse’s turnout or stall. Flies can worsen this problem, so reduce this population with good fly control procedures. Hock wraps are commercially available and may protect this area. Wrapping hocks can be tricky if you are not experienced.

If wounds are severe, worsening, growing larger, non-healing, swollen, or if your horse is lame, contact your vet immediately with your findings and concerns.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet considers the type of wound in this location and the structures involved. Management depends on the nature of the wound.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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