By: Dr. Lydia Gray, SmartPak Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian
Windpuffs, also known as windgalls, are a cosmetic blemish of the ankles (fetlocks) in horses similar to thoroughpin near the hocks. Specifically, windpuffs are fluid swelling of the tendon sheath makes the legs appear puffy or swollen. This swelling is not accompanied by heat or pain, and it does not usually cause lameness.
It’s always a good idea to have a veterinarian examine any changes in your horse, especially a new swelling. In addition to a regular physical exam, your vet may want to perform a lameness exam and image the area to be sure no important structures are involved. X-rays will show changes in joints and bones while an ultrasound will show changes in soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Generally no treatment is necessary or recommended for routine cases of windpuffs.
While windpuffs are not the same thing as arthritis, many of the same activities and conformation flaws that lead to windpuffs may also lead to arthritis, tendinitis, and other lameness. For this reason, you may want to reevaluate certain aspects of your horse’s management, including trimming/shoeing, arena footing, conditioning program, and work schedule to help keep your horse healthy and happy and avoid problems in the future.