What are Bog Spavins?
A bog spavin is a soft fluid filled swelling on the upper and inner side of the hock. The joint is swollen due to excess synovial fluid which causes the swelling. Not to be confused with bone spavins!!
- Soft swelling on the inside and often also the outside of the hock.
- Occasionally lameness, but often there is none.
- There is often no heat and no pain.
The swelling occurs when a knock, strain or change occurs to the joint bringing excess inflammatory cells to the area, this in turn brings extra synovial fluid. Sudden and sharp movements or stops when weight is suddenly put on to the hock can cause an excessive strain on the joint. Upright hock conformation can also cause excess strain. Occasionally nutritional deficiencies can cause bog spavins. They can also be caused by synovitis (see a future blog) or degenerative joint disease.
Polo often involves sudden stops and turns
A vet can use a radiograph or x-ray to identify any changes to the bone which may have caused the bog spavin.
Many bog spavin's will heal on their own, although it is possible the horse will be left with a small, painless swelling. Cold hosing can help to reduce the swelling too whilst it is soft. If the swelling becomes hard arthritis may develop in the joint later. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help to decrease the inflammation, these can either be injected or given orally. Corticosteroids can help but rest is usually suggested followed by gentle exercise.
When working a horse minimise any stress on the hock joint by reducing sudden movements or halts.
Conformation faults should be taken into consideration when working a horse too. Ensuring the diet is well balanced will prevent any nutritional deficiencies.
Bog Spavin's are something to be aware of but generally in themselves do not cause long term problems. However, if your horse develops one it is worth consulting your vet in case there is an underlying cause that is more serious!
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