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      Understanding Windgalls in Horses: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

      Windgalls can present as a worrying problem with horses and ponies. To the uninitiated, they can look like a problematic injury. In this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about windgalls. Types, causes, symptoms, diagnosis methods for detecting them, how they should be treated, and preventive actions which could help keep your horse or pony healthy and happy with an active life ahead.

      Key Takeways

      • Windgalls in horses can be identified as either tendinous or articular, and are caused by heavy workloads, poor conformation and hoof imbalance.
      • Recognizing symptoms such as puffiness at the base of tendons is important for early detection.
      • Treatment options include cold therapy & rest, exercise & bandaging and alternative treatments with consultation from a veterinarian for guidance.

      Identifying Windgalls: Tendinous vs. Articular


      A horse with a tendinous windgall on its fetlock joint

      Image source:,h_854,al_c,q_85,usm_0.66_1.00_0.01,enc_auto/e43b24_017c7469df55445d9bc233a2286cc3b7~mv2.jpg

      Horse owners sometimes become concerned when soft swellings appear above the fetlock joint in their horses, also known as windgalls. The swelling can be classified into two types: tendinous and articular, each with a unique set of issues which require different treatment plans. It is critical to distinguish between them if you want your horse to remain healthy and able to perform its best.

      Tendinous Windgalls

      Tendinous windgalls are caused by inflammation of the digital flexor tendon sheath due to problems within that same structure involving flexor tendons or inside the digital tendon sheath itself.

      Middle aged horses that have undergone strenuous exercise may develop tendinous windgalls, which are soft and symmetrical swellings. Not causing any pain or lameness, these types of windgalls occur due to the thickening in the membrane surrounding the tendon sheath rather than a buildup of fluid. Despite their non-threatening nature, it is still recommended that horse owners keep an eye on them so as not to put your animal at risk for discomfort.

      Articular Windgalls

      When a horse has an enlarged fetlock joint with lameness, the cause should be determined by seeking advice from a veterinarian. An X-ray or ultrasound may help diagnose articular windgalls which are commonly associated with stocky animals of upright confirmation and happen in jumping horses. Such swellings could signal degenerative joint disease or traumatic conditions around the cannon bone, so it is important that appropriate recuperation measures are taken swiftly for successful recovery.


      Causes of Windgalls in Horses


      A horse with a swollen fetlock joint due to windgalls


      As horse owners, it’s important to understand the causes of windgalls developing in our horses. Heavy workloads and poor conformation or hoof imbalance are often responsible for when these swellings occur. Taking proactive steps can help reduce this risk.

      By having an understanding of what contributes to the formation of windgalls, we as horse owners can take preventive measures that may minimize their occurrence in our equines’ lives.

      Heavy Workloads and Terrain

      Horses – even those that appear to be in perfect condition – are more likely to get windgalls if they work hard on tough surfaces, as the extra stress put on their legs and tendons can cause damage. This is especially true for foals still developing or horses of a more advanced age whose joints have become weaker with time.

      It’s extremely important to keep an eye on your horse’s workload and avoid intense labor over rough ground so you can decrease the risk of getting windgalls. Take a look at horses that still work on hard surfaces, such as tourist carriages, and you’ll likely find significant windgalls. (Also known and windpuffs in the USA).

      Poor Conformation and Hoof Imbalance

      Unsound conformation and poor hoof balance are both factors in the development of windgalls, as these issues place extra strain on joints and tendons. Misalignments can have a major effect on how your horse moves and performs their work, which may then lead to long-term lameness due to excessive pressures that accumulate around joint capsules or surfaces. To prevent this from happening, make sure you go for regular farrier visits while making sure all aspects of hoof care are accounted for correctly, keeping balance levels optimal so no stress is added leading to windgall problems arising again in the future.

      Recognizing Symptoms of Windgalls


      A horse with a swollen fetlock joint due to windgalls

      Image source:


      Taking note of any signs that could indicate the presence of windgalls in a horse is important for timely intervention. Symptoms often include bulging around the tendons, symmetrical puffiness and sometimes even slight heat or lameness. Despite such cases being rather rare though, owners must still be watchful and should seek professional assistance from their vet when there’s apprehension over how their animal’s hind legs react to touch, specifically at the fetlock region.

      Diagnostic Techniques for Windgalls

      Examining swelling related to windgalls requires a range of techniques in order for veterinarians to identify any underlying tissue damage or infection. The primary stage is physical examination, and it can be followed up with ultrasound scans, X-rays and testing the synovial fluid composition.

      Accurate diagnosis at an early stage is essential when treating this condition. Especially when dealing with tendinous windgalls where analysis of thesynovial fluids as well as the production of said fluid are crucial elements for successful treatment.

      Treatment Options for Windgalls

      Tailor your treatment plan to best suit the needs of your horse, if they are suffering from windgalls. This might include using cold therapy for reducing swelling and providing rest or exercise depending on what’s most suitable. Alternatives such as magnotherapy and supplements can also be used in certain situations alongside veterinary guidance which should always be sought out throughout this process. Monitoring is essential when treating a horse that has windgalls, ensuring their optimal health at all times during the journey back to full recovery!

      Cold Therapy and Rest

      Cold therapy, such as ice packs, can be an effective way to reduce any swelling and discomfort associated with windgalls. The application of cold temperatures should provide relief from inflammation while also aiding in the horse’s healing process.

      Equally important is providing rest for the animal’s sore joints and tendons. When combined with a suitable cold treatment plan, horses can quickly return to action!

      Exercise and Bandaging

      Exercising with proper control can be an effective way to minimize the swelling associated with windgalls by improving blood circulation and flexibility in affected areas. Modifying your horse’s exercise regime or daily workload is important for avoiding injury.

      In combination, applying bandages which offer support and provide a compressive effect may help contain the condition of windgalls while decreasing any puffiness. Together these techniques form an appropriate treatment plan that both alleviates symptoms as well as targets potential root causes related to this issue.

      Alternative Treatments

      To treat windgalls, magnotherapy, such as with the Activo-Med Combi Boots is a potential option as it increases circulation to the affected area without medication. Supplements and herbs can provide anti-inflammatory relief for horses while Boswellia Serrata Extract Powder serves as an additional source of natural pain management. Before initiating any treatment approach on your horse. Be sure to consult their veterinarian for confirmation that each method is both safe and effective.


      magnetic therapy horse boot

      Prevention Strategies for Windgalls

      Taking care of a horse can help keep them safe from developing windgalls. Appropriate leg protection and management are essential, such as ensuring the animal is on an exercise plan that includes rest periods combined with healthy diet. Monitoring for early signs of swelling or pain after each session must be done along with regular farrier visits so preventive measures may be taken should anything arise. With these strategies in place, horses have the best chances at avoiding any issues concerning their legs stemming from windgalls occurring later down the line.


      To ensure the health of horses, it is essential for horse owners to recognize and understand articular windgalls. Knowing their causes, symptoms, methods of diagnosis and available treatments can allow early detection, which in turn allows you to provide optimal care. To prevent any risk or discomfort that may come with having a galled leg joint, regular farrier visits should be made along with monitoring your horse after exercising as well as keeping up a steady fitness plan.


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