By: Dr. Lydia Gray
What is it?
Windpuffs, also known as windgalls, are a cosmetic blemish of the ankles (fetlocks) of horses. Similar to bog spavin and thoroughpin, windpuffs are fluid swelling of the tendon sheath not accompanied by heat or pain. They do not usually cause lameness. Young horses just starting training, horses in heavy work, and any horse with poor conformation in the fetlock region may be at risk for developing windpuffs.
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 addition to a regular physical examination, the veterinarian may perform a lameness exam and image the area to make sure no important structures are involved. X-rays will show changes in joints and bones while ultrasound will show changes in soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments.
What else do I need to know?
Windpuffs are not the same as arthritis, but the same activities and conformation that lead to windpuffs 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. Generally no treatment is necessary or recommended for routine cases of windpuffs.
About Dr. Lydia Gray