The Equine Hock Joint
 By Winniefield Park   •   20th Dec 2016   •   2,020 views   •   0 comments

The largest joints in your horse’s legs are the hock joints. Although they are half way up the horse’s back legs they aren’t at all like the knees we have about half way up our own legs. They are more like our ankles and they act as both a shock absorber and to extend and contract the back legs. Stand on your toes, and from the side, you can see how the ankle, along with the heel bone are shaped somewhat like a horse’s hock. Although the hock joint looks like one big joint, it is actually a combination of four smaller joints, that make up what is called the tarsus area of the horse’s anatomy.

The uppermost joint that makes up your horse’s hock is the largest and is responsible for the most of the range of motion - the extending and contracting of the horse’s lower leg. The three lower joints, each separated by a rectangular block of bone aid with the range of motion, and also provide a shock absorber system. The two top joints do the majority of the work. Below the hock are bones somewhat similar to the toe bones in your foot. This ‘on your toes’ build of the horse’s hind legs make the legs lighter, and aids in sudden bursts of speed.

All of the joints in the hock are connected with ligaments. Ligaments are fibrous strands of connective tissue that is very strong and flexible. A tendon, called the digital flexor tendon runs down the inside of the hock to the cannon bone. Tendons bend, but they are not flexible like ligaments. The digital flexor is like a guy wire for the horse’s back leg, supporting the weight of the haunches. The superficial digital flexor is the easily felt ‘cord’ down the back of the horse’s leg from the hock to the fetlock joint. This is similar to our Achilles tendon.

Between each joint in the hock are pads of cartilage. This is strong but flexible material that protects the bones from making contact with each other. Protecting the cartilage, and aiding in the smooth movement of the joint in synovial fluid.

So while the hock looks like a big strong joint, there are actually many different parts. And, any one of these parts is susceptible to strain. Hock injuries in performance horses are common. Jumpers, reiners, horses that work cattle, dressage horses, race horses and many others can become unsound due to strain on their hocks. Bone spavins and bog spavins are two common problems that horses can develop in their hocks. Both tend to develop in the lower, relatively stationary joints in the hock structure. Bone spavins are actually a type of osteoarthritis that results in a calcified deposit around the hock joint. Bog spavins are build ups of fluid caused by inflammation. Poor conformation can also be a factor in hock unsoundess. Angles that are too little or too great mean greater strain is placed on the joints within the hock, and there is greater potential for injury.

So how do you protect these joints. Many injuries are caused by working too hard with too little conditioning. If your sport requires lots of hock flexion, fast turns, hard stops and high jumps, make sure you bring your horse into the work with lots of preparation to strengthen all of their muscles. Watch your horse’s hocks for any signs of stiffness, pain or swelling. And, let your horse have adequate time to rest and repair between workouts.

As a horse ages, hocks are easily a site for arthritis. Supplements and gentle exercise can help keep a senior horse comfortable and sound.
Horse News Related:  Horse Joint Injections,
Horse News More In This Category:  General      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
 More News by Winniefield Park
Gaza Riders Back in the Saddle After COVID Lockdown
11th Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
The COVID19 lockdown meant many of us weren’t able to ride, or were not able to ride as we normally would. Like many organizations around the world, the Palestine Equestrian Federation placed restrictions on the types of activitie ...
Kentucky Derby Horse Drugging Probe Ongoing
10th Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Bob Baffert, trainer of five Kentucky Derby winning horses is going for a sixth win. But, his efforts are shadowed by reports of horses in his care are again testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Details are sparse as ...
RavenSide Stud TBS Home of Multiple Top Ranked Horses
5th Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
RSS Break Even and RSS Identity Thief are both top ranked horses belonging to the same stables. RavenSide Stud TBS was established in 2017 and is ranked at 113 with 49,459,023 PB in earnings. Currently, there are three stallions s ...
Horse Dismounts Police in Protest Turned Ugly
4th Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
During a peaceful protest that turned ugly in London, UK a police horse bolted after being pelted with debris by violent demonstrators. Flares, bottles and sticks flew as the crowd was pushed back by mounted police officers. One o ...
Horse That Survived Kentucky Horse Shooting Foals Healthy Pinto
3rd Jul 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
You might remember a story from early last winter about twenty horses in Eastern Kentucky that were shot and killed. The few survivors were taken to Kentucky Humane Society’s Willow Hope Farm to regain their health and eventually ...
Stop Petting Wild Horses
29th Jun 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Beach-goers to the Outer Banks are being asked to stay clear of the wild horses that live there after a photo of a woman appearing to pat a wild horse has surfaced. This is not an isolated incident as tourists visit the well known ...
Funny Horse Fruit Taste Test
28th Jun 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Some horses eat anything and will eat everything from anchovies to zucchini. And some are extremely picky and act like you’ve poisoned them if you put anything but hay and grain in front of their noses. Have you ever tried a taste ...
Jim Gaffigan Horse Comedy
27th Jun 2020   |   General   |   Winniefield Park
Jim Gaffigan pokes fun at the Triple Crown, from the costumes and pageantry, to owners, jockeys and trainers. He then takes a humorous trek through the horse world, exploring horse breeds, horse people, horseshoes, riding and the ...
  View All News by Winniefield Park
©2002 - 2020   PonyBox LLC Create Account Advertise Terms Privacy Contact Us
197 Members Online 267,616 Registered Members 2,737 News Articles 11,635,292 Unique News Article Views 276,868,274 Website Views