Understanding Hocks

Posted on September 1, 2020 by Categories: Cryochaps
horse hock boots

The horse’s hock is akin to the human ankle. Characterised by the protruding calcaneus (the heel bone), the hock is a complex, but often neglected, structure. Our guide to equine hock anatomy outlines the structure of the hock and why it can benefit from ice and compression. 

Equine Hock Anatomy

The horse’s lower hind legs (i.e. from the hock down) are akin to an elongated human foot. The protrusion sometimes known as the point of the hock is the calcaneus – i.e. the heel. Above the hock, the tibia connects to the femur via the patella. Below the hock, the cannon bone (i.e. the third metatarsal) connects to the pasterns via the fetlock joint. Within the hock joint itself is a collection of small tarsal bones, which allow the hock joint to move. The joint is moved and stabilised via a network of tendons and ligaments, including the SDFT, DDFT, suspensory ligament and Achilles tendon. 

Equine Hock Injuries and Issues

Being rather bony, the hock area can be prone to knocks, kicks and bumps. These can easily occur in the field or stable, as well as during exercise or competition. It is important to remember that those long but vital tendons – the SDFT and DDFT – run across the hock. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to your horse’s hocks and take note of any heat or swelling in the area. Damage to the tendons in the hock could contribute towards problems in other areas of the leg or the back if they are left unchecked.

Bog Spavins and Bone Spavins 

“Spavin” comes from a root word meaning swelling. In simple terms, a bog spavin is a soft puffiness or swelling at the front of the hock, while a bone spavin is a solid bony enlargement on either side of the hock, often caused by arthritis. Lameness and heat often accompany a bone spavin.

The Absolute Wrap Horse Hock Boots by Cryochaps

There are steps horse owners can take to minimise the chance of a hock injury. Understanding your horse’s hock conformation can help you manage his workload and exercise regime in such a way that is sympathetic to the hocks. Keeping an eye out for swelling, heat or lameness can ensure that hock injuries are identified early. Finally, icing the hocks after exercise or injury can aid recovery.

The Cryochaps Absolute Wrap is an ice boot that can be used on the horse’s hocks, knees or fetlocks. Target the swelling or heat with ice and compression using our ice hock boots for horses. The Absolute Wrap can be used on the hock and covers all the vital areas where swelling is common. Purchase our equine ice wraps today via our online shop.