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  • Hock wound

    Posted on by Abii Dowdy

    Late last year, the above mare was found in her paddock tangled in wire fencing. The mare’s owner managed to free her from the fencing and our vet Gemma was called to attend.


    The mare had sustained multiple wounds, the worse of which were over the front and left hand side of the left hock joint. Both wounds were full skin thickness and very close to the extensor tendons. She was comfortable standing, very slightly lame in walk but 5/10 lame in trot on her left hindlimb.

    To investigate further, the mare was sedated and the wound site was clipped, scrubbed and lavaged with copious amounts of saline. Upon probing, both wounds communicated with each other via a small flap of skin. The joint capsule could be palpated but the joint did not appear to be distended or penetrated. There was luckily no drainage of joint fluid from the wound, even as the hindlimb was flexed and moved.

    Gemma applied a 3 layer bandage extending from the fetlock to the hock to try and immbolise the hock and therefore encourage healing. The wound could not be sutured due to its location and the amount of tension on the wound edges. The mare was given intravenous pain-relief and started on broad-spectrum antibiotics.

    The mare was box-rested and checked daily, being monitored for lameness due to the wound’s close proximity to the hock joint. Fortunately, the lameness improved and the wounds started to heal well. Ultrasonography of the front of the hock was performed to check there was no lasting damage to the deeper soft tissue and bony structures. Radiographs were also taken with no pathological changes seen.

    The bandage was changed twice weekly, with the wounds being dressed with antibiotic cream. After the initial stage of proficient wound healing, the speed of healing declined due to the degree of movement, even with extensive efforts to reduce this! To try and encourage the wound to heal faster, the mare was admitted to our Plum Park clinic where the wound was debrided and sutured, with a full limb cast being applied. She was monitored daily and the wound started to heal well.

    Following discharge from the hospital, the mare continued on box rest until the wound had completely healed. The rehabilitation programme then began.

    When examined 1 month in to the rehabilitation programme, the mare presented as slightly lame on her left hind leg and there was effusion of the large hock joints. To help settle the reactive inflammation of these joints, corticosteroids were injected intra-articularly. One month later, 4 months after the initial injury, the mare had greatly improved and her workload has been increased.

    She is now back in full work and has made a full recovery.