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


Sores, Crusts or Scabs on Hock


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.

  • 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.

your role


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 Not To Do

Do not attempt to wrap this area unless you know how to do it properly. You can hurt the horse.

your vet's role

Your vet considers the type of wound in this location and the structures involved. Management depends on the nature of the wound. They may suggest particular protective devices, and have ideas for changes in management.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the horse seem to be limping or lame?
  • Do you notice swelling in the area?
  • Does the horse seem to by lying down more than normal?
  • Where, exactly, is it located? Can you provide a photo?
  • Is there any drainage?
  • Do the wounds seem to be healing normally?
  • Can you describe the stabling and footing?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP