Hock sores – help your horse heal!


Hock sores are a tricky thing to manage. The hock is one area of your horse that moves a lot, and when they lie down and get up, the hind legs and hocks are always on the ground creating all sorts of friction with the dirt or bedding. Ideally, you will manage your horse’s environment so these buggers never happen and if they do, you can help heal these types of pressure sores. Easier said than done, right?


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What causes hock sores in horses?


  • Bedding, or lack thereof, is the usual culprit for hock sores. Any type of abrasive bedding or earth can potentially create a hairless patch on the hocks, which can open and create a wound. And not strangely at all, horses can get hock sores from even the softest bedding and stall mats.


  • Dry lots, a rocky paddock, sandy pastures, and your horse’s favorite rolling spot can also contribute to these sores. There may be noticeable swelling involved too, as any wound will have inflammation.


  • You really need to worry if the wound creates sore joints, and there’s a risk that the wound can interfere with the joint fluid. Any sore should be addressed by your veterinarian for proper care – from oral meds to a salve to appropriate dressings.


  • Daily monitoring of your horse’s skin and coat health is a part of grooming and health care, and horse owners can look for a few things that indicate infection of a hock sore. Keep your eyes peeled for:


    • Pus or other weird drainage
    • Swelling
    • A painful reaction from your horse when touched in the area
    • Lameness
    • Fever
    • Anything looking like it’s worse than the day before


hock sore boot on a gray horse

Protective hock boots



Can hock sores lead to more serious health issues if left untreated?


  • Yes, hock sores can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. If hock sores are not properly managed, they can become infected, leading to pain, discomfort, and potential complications such as cellulitis or septic arthritis. Early intervention is crucial to prevent further health issues.


missing hair on a hock that may become a sore

The beginnings of a hock sore – notice the crumpled hairs.


Hock sores treatment and prevention


Get your vet involved from the beginning to help you create and execute a hock sore treatment plan.  


Your horse’s bedding


  • The first thing is to think about the bedding your horse rests on. Often, you will see the hair on the point of the hock get shorter and roughed up by bedding before you see a sore. Heed that warning!


  • Change the bedding if you think you need to or add more if you can. I have seen hock sores start to develop from rice hull bedding and regular shavings.


  • You may have some luck with pellet bedding that expands into sawdust once damp. With enough volume, this can be pretty soft and does a great job of keeping urine soaked up. Layering with a larger flake bedding on top may help, too.


  • If your horse prefers to sleep outside on seemingly questionable footing, you could add a sleeping patch. Some bedding types do better outside than others. A good place to start is with cedar bedding or the expandable wood pellets. They can handle some rain.


elastikon bandage

Magic tape. Expensive magic tape.


Overnight protection with tape


  • Here’s a good trick for the evening if you see your horse starting to get sore. A very sticky piece of medical tape, like Elastikon, will hold to your horse’s hock quite well at night. Use a cotton ball or folded gauze with some medicine to cover the sore, then add the medical tape.


  • Duct tape may also be an option in a pinch, it’s a hiker and runner trick to prevent blisters.


Should you clip the area?


  • Yes! Clipping the area around the wound helps a few things. You will be able to see what’s going on much easier, and therefore track the healing. You will also be able to keep the wound cleaner and apply topical meds more effectively. Hair around the edges is a vector for getting more dirt stuck in the sore.


hock shield brand

Hock shields have lots of soft fluff inside. 



Hock shields and horse socks


  • You can buy specially designed hock sore boots and fetlock boots to cushion sore-prone areas.


  • Hock shields have a fleece lining, adding cushion to the hock area. Some horses dislike the pressure above the hock and sometimes the fit can make dents into the area above the hock.


  • To use the hock shield effectively and comfortably, apply some Elastikon bandage to the hock. It’s very grippy, especially if it’s been left in the heat for some time. The texture of the Elastikon helps the fleece wrap stick without needing to tighten the snot out of it.


  • You can also use horse socks to help ward off bed sores, which help the hock covering shield stay put. It’s no biggie if these silver magic horse socks get wet or muddy. The texture of the Sox on the lower legs helps keep the bottom of the hock boot from slipping down.


  • If your horse has very slick hair, like after applying a shine product, hock boots and shields can be extra slippery, and any tape you apply will not adhere. You should probably skip the slickery treatments until after the sore is healed.


  • You should also use an ointment or cream that your vet suggests. I’ll always ask the vet what hock sore treatment cream works best under a wrap.




Silver Whinnys from Sox for Horses work wonders for lower legs and hocks!


Sores elsewhere on your horse’s legs


  • Some horses like to get pastern, fetlock, or knee sores, usually from the same action when they lie down.  There are fetlock shields available, or you can use a comfortable bell boot upside down to protect the fetlock or pastern. 


  • For knees that get sores, you can also find knee shields, but I have yet to figure out a way to barn hack a makeshift knee covering.


fetlock shield for bedsores on a horse

Fetlock shields.




If you want more information about hock health on the inside, read this article about taking care of hocks!



How to treat and wrap a hock sore.


Preventing hock sores video.


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Johnson and Johnson Elastikon Elastic Tape 4in

This medical tape will quite literally hold your life together, it's that amazing.

06/13/2024 08:22 pm GMT
Click Horse Fetlock Shield
$35.99 ($35.99 / Count)
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VEREDUS Carbon Shield Heel Protector
$298.57 ($298.57 / Count)
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Click Horse Fetlock Shield
$35.99 ($35.99 / Count)
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Lettia Embroidered Polo Wraps

Go forth and have fun with your polos!

07/08/2024 06:12 pm GMT
Woof Wear Reflective Club Boot - Lime

Show off your horse's legs with these safe, reflective, and fashionable boots.

06/23/2024 02:43 pm GMT
Whinny Wellies from Sox For Horses

Tough, weather-resistant covering for wraps and bandaging.

06/26/2024 07:18 pm GMT
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