Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bubble of Soft Swelling on Outside &/or Front of 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 lameness in addition to this sign.
  • If you feel the problem is severe or has come on suddenly.

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

  • If you do not notice lameness or pain, only a swelling.
  • If the swelling is mild or moderate, and not increasing rapidly.

The equine hock is equivalent to your ankle. It is made up of many bones, four joints and several tendon sheath – a complicated anatomy.

“Bubbles” of fluid accumulation around the hock can indicate fluid accumulation within specific joints or tendon sheaths. Each of these accumulations means something different for the health of the horse.

A firm fluid accumulation on the outside (lateral) upper part of a horse’s hock is commonly known as a “thoroughpin”. It is a fluid-filled swelling within the flexor tendon (tarsal) sheath that encloses the flexor tendons as they run through the hock.

A “bog” is the horseman’s term for a fluid accumulation within the top joint of the hock, which is found lower and a bit further forward than a thoroughpin and is also visible at the front of the hock.

For any of these swellings, the horse may or may not be lame, as accompanying lameness depends on the nature of the underlying cause.

WHAT TO DO

Monitor the horse for lameness and change in the appearance of the swelling over time. Compare the swelling on the affected leg to the other leg. Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and call your vet with your findings and concerns.

If you are considering the purchase of the horse, always have your vet perform a purchase exam. In that exam, they determine the significance of these swellings.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet’s role is to determine the significance of the swelling by identifying the underlying cause – a diagnosis. Only then can they tell you what you what it means to you and your horse, including a recommendation regarding treatment and a prognosis.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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