By: Dr. Lydia Gray
What is it?
Bog spavin is a cosmetic blemish of the hock area. Similar to thoroughpin and windpuffs, thoroughpin is fluid swelling of the tendon sheath not accompanied by heat or pain. In this particular instance, it is swelling of one of the joint capsules of the hock. Bog spavin does not usually cause lameness. The most common cause of bog spavin is osteochondrosis (OCD), however poor hindlimb conformation, poor trimming/shoeing, poor footing, heavy training, or any trauma to the joint can lead to bog spavin.
What can be done about it?
It is always a good idea to have a veterinarian examine any changes in your horse, especially new swellings in the hock area. A lameness examination will most likely include imaging such as X-rays or ultrasound to determine the exact cause of the problem and extent of the damage. A joint "tap" may also be done, where the veterinarian inserts a needle into the joint to remove a small amount of joint fluid and examine it. If the bog spavin is found to be due to an OCD chip or other osteochondrosis lesion, surgery may be necessary. In other situations, the veterinarian may recommend prescription medications such as Adequan or Legend be injected directly into the joint or given systemically to the horse (intramuscular or intravenous) to improve joint health.
What else do I need to know?
Bog spavin is not the same as arthritis, but the same activities and conformation that lead to bog spavin may lead to arthritis, tendinitis and other lamenesses. Therefore a horse that develops these blemishes should have its trimming/shoeing, arena footing, conditioning program and work schedule evaluated to prevent additional problems. Now may be a good time to start a horse on a joint supplement to provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection as well as the building blocks of healthy joint tissue and fluid.
About Dr. Lydia Gray