Hock Problems and Age

Horses can suffer hock problems at any age. Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, an assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at Iowa State University, points out that some horses develop juvenile spavin as foals. "This may have to do with how mature the bones were when the horse was born," he explains. Stress of weight bearing on immature bones might create damage and bony changes at a young age.

During heavy training, inflammation will occur and recur and the young horse may require repeated joint injections. "You see this in some older horses as well, if they are used strenuously," notes McClure. "You see some mature horses with beautiful hock joints, but typically the ones that are used heavily will start to develop inflammation at a young age. Others, you may not see it until their teenage years.

"You see some young ones with ugly hocks, some with good hocks, old horses with bad hocks, and some with good hocks," he summarized. "Problems can crop up anywhere across the board, but they are more apt to occur in young ones being used heavily in events like cutting, reining, or roping, where they use their rear end a lot. The other group where you see sore hocks is horses in their teenage years, used in any sport."

About the Author

Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas ranches with her husband near Salmon, Idaho, raising cattle and a few horses. She has a B.A. in English and history from University of Puget Sound (1966). She has raised and trained horses for 50 years, and has been writing freelance articles and books nearly that long, publishing 20 books and more than 9,000 articles for horse and livestock publications. Some of her books include Understanding Equine Hoof Care, The Horse Conformation Handbook, Care and Management of Horses, Storey's Guide to Raising Horses and Storey's Guide to Training Horses. Besides having her own blog, www.heathersmiththomas.blogspot.com, she writes a biweekly blog at http://insidestorey.blogspot.com that comes out on Tuesdays.

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