What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Wound at or near Hock

Fetlock Joint Wound & Infected Fetlock Joint Treated with Joint Flushing


The hock region of the hind limb is made up of 4 joints, dozens of ligaments, and many tendons and tendon sheaths. Most of these structures are wrapped in thick sheets of heavy connective tissue fascia.

Common wounds to this area result from kicks from pasture mates. Even small puncture wounds from these kicks can involve a joint or tendon sheath. This is especially true for injuries to the inside (medial side) of the hock.

The severity of a hock wounds depends on which, if any, of important structures are involved. Healing in this area is also complicated because it is very high motion, with very little free skin available for repair, and generally poor blood supply.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
    • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

your role


What To Do

If your horse has suffered a wound at or near their hock, assess their general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the rectal temperature, degree of lameness, and degree of swelling and drainage. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

Take a photo of the injury and send it to your vet for discussion. Early diagnosis, detection of joint and tendon sheath injuries, and treatment of wounds in this area provide the best prognosis for the horse.

your vet's role

The most important question is whether or not the wound has penetrated the joint or tendon sheath. Vet's make this determination using a clinical exam, assessment of fluid from joints and tendon sheath, and pressurizing these structures by injecting sterile fluid into them, and looking for leakage from the wound.

Treatment options and prognosis depend on the results of these initial diagnostics.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How lame is the horse?
  • Is the lameness noticeable to you at the walk?
  • When did you first notice the wound?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?
  • Is there much swelling in the area?

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Figuring out the cause of the problem. These are tests or procedures used by your vet to determine what’s wrong.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnostics

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP