Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Windpuffs or Windgalls

Synonyms: Benign Tendon Sheath or Joint Swelling


A "windpuff" is a soft fluid filled lump that develops on or near the fetlock joint. The term "windpuff" is a horseman's term that refers to these bumps. But swelling of these structures can also be associated with conditions causing lameness. The swellings are fluid accumulations within either the fetlock joint itself or in the tendon sheath that encases the flexor tendons as they run behind the joint. They are more common in the hind limbs.

Benign swellings of the tendon sheaths true "windpuffs" are not in themselves painful and do not cause lameness. They usually develop after intense exercise and are a sign of wear. Taken alone with no heat, pain response to flexion of the joint, or lameness windpuffs are considered benign and not of concern.

Any swelling should be monitored, and the horse assessed for lameness.

The swellings may decrease and resolve with rest and adjustments in work. Pressure bandages may be used to decrease inflammation and swelling. Topical anti-inflammatories may help temporarily but are probably unnecessary.

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Other conditions or ailments that might also need to be ruled out by a vet.

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Less Common
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Treatments May Include

These treatments might be used to help resolve or improve this condition.

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The prognosis for true benign swelling of the tendon sheaths is excellent. The question is whether the tendon is injured. If there is no lameness, then there is probably no tendon injury.

Sometimes a vet may need to assess the horse to make this determination.

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Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • How do I know whether there is tendon injury or just benign swelling?

Horses that work hard over long periods of time develop windpuffs. All of the preventive measures that are used to reduce lameness, reduce wear and tear and should reduce the formation of windpuffs. Examples are adequate conditioning for intense work, and arena footing that is neither too hard nor too deep.

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP