Diagnostic and Treatment Options for Sore Hocks
As demands on the equine athlete are constantly increased, so are the tolls taken on that athlete’s body. In team roping, one of the most common tolls is lameness in the hock. The quick bursts of speed, sudden stops and heavy weight being borne by the hind legs in an average team roping run can result in wear and tear on the hock. Equivalent to the human ankle, the hock is one of the most likely joints in a horse to suffer injury, and sore hocks can develop at any stage of a horse’s life.
Diagnosis is the first and foremost challenge when a hock injury begins to surface. An accomplished horseman will recognize lameness, either on the ground or horseback. Other clues may be unwillingness to perform certain maneuvers that were once routine.
The first solution is rest. Maybe you’ve simply been pushing your horse too hard. Of course, it is vital that a veterinarian be involved in the diagnostic process. If the horse is obviously lame, and becomes more so during flexion, your vet may be able to diagnose the problem in a physical examination. More challenging diagnoses will reveal themselves in radiographs.
Once a problem is positively diagnosed, treatment becomes the next challenge. Rest is obviously the first option. You may consider a change in shoeing, but remember, shoes cannot fix an existing problem, but can help a horse work with less discomfort through an ailment.
So the next logical step is nutritional supplements specifically designed to strengthen joints and combat joint discomfort. Injections are also a safe option, but the less invasive solutions should be attempted first.