Understanding Windpuffs in Performance Horses
Windpuffs in Performance Horses: Understanding and Treatment
Windpuffs, also referred to as windgalls, are a common occurrence in performance horses that often raise concerns among horsemen. These swollen sheaths, which contain synovial fluid, surround the flexor tendons at the fetlock level. They serve the crucial function of reducing friction between the ankle bones and flexor tendons, facilitating smooth movement. While most horses are unaffected by this swelling, in some cases, pain may be present, necessitating treatment.
Draining the Area
When manual pressure applied to the sheath causes discomfort for the horse, draining the area is a recommended course of action. By carefully inserting a small needle into the sheath, excess fluid can escape, alleviating the problem and restoring soundness for many horses. This drainage technique alone may be sufficient for treatment.
In cases where draining the area is not enough to alleviate the pain, additional treatment may be necessary. Injecting the area with cortisone or a combination of cortisone and a dulling agent like P-Block can effectively reduce inflammation and provide immediate relief for the horse. It's important to note that these techniques offer temporary relief, and reinjection may be required after 30-90 days. However, repetitive treatments of this nature do not harm the horse's health.
Ruptured Sheath and Bleeding
In rare instances, if blood is the only fluid found upon entering the sheath, it indicates a rupture in the sheath resulting in continuous bleeding. In these cases, drainage and injection treatments prove to be ineffective. The best approach is to allow the horse to rest until the bleeding stops. Injecting drugs that aid in blood clotting into the area may also yield some success.
Cosmetic Concerns and Professional Advice
Overall, windpuffs in performance horses are primarily a cosmetic concern for horsemen. While they may occasionally cause discomfort, appropriate treatment options are available to mitigate any pain and restore soundness. It is crucial to monitor the condition closely and seek professional advice to ensure the well-being of the horse.