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windpuffs on horses


What are windpuffs?

You are going through your daily leg inspection and you notice there are some squishy parts of your horse’s fetlocks. Could these be windpuffs?


  • Windpuffs are an easier way of saying “extra fluid around a tendon sheath, and a tendon sheath is a protective layer around a tendon which holds some lubricating fluid”.


  • What you may find is a roundish puffy spot that sticks out from the leg. It may be the size of the tip of your pinky, or even larger than a golf ball.


  • You can press it in, and it’s kinda soft, and it bounces back. Windpuffs are considered a cosmetic blemish, like a scar, and should not interfere with your horse’s soundness. Usually.



Daily leg inspections are a must!


General guidelines about windpuffs:


  • Old
  • Cold
  • Not lame
  • Not sensitive or tender
  • Develop over time
  • Can vary in size due to exercise amount and concussion on the ground
  • Typically symmetrical on both sets of legs
  • More common on the hind legs
  • Occur at the rear of the fetlocks, usually



A quick video about windpuffs.



windpuff higher on a horse's fetlock

This windpuff is squishy and about the size of a walnut.


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When to call the vet

  • If you find something that wasn’t there yesterday, it may still end up being a windpuff, but a sudden appearance, heat, tenderness, and/or lameness warrant a call to the veterinarian.


  • Because windpuffs involve tendons, they are not to be taken lightly if they appear suddenly or if they become warm, hot, tender, or painful and/or include lameness. Anyone who has rehabilitated a horse with a tendon injury can tell you a bunch of horror stories!


  • There’s another scenario where the windpuff is caught in the annular ligament, which goes around the fetlock. This ligament is flat and thin and causes a pinching. In this case, your horse will be uncomfortable. This may be treated with injections.


  • Your horse might also develop adhesions between the tendon and the tendon sheath. In cases like this, arthroscopy surgery inside the sheath can cut the adhesions, or in some cases, cut the ligaments that are interfering.


windpuff on horse fetlock


Can you do anything for windpuffs?


  • Most of the time you don’t need to do anything. If your horse has an injury or is bothered by the windpuffs, your Veterinarian will need to do some diagnostic work to find the underlying issues and then map out a treatment plan.


  • If you ice your horse’s legs after exercise (ahem…it’s a good idea), you will notice that your horse’s windpuffs shrink a bit. This is totally normal, as it’s normal for them to return to their “regular” size.


Does your horse have windpuffs?


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If you need to stock up on some leg care stuff, here are some handy links! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which are not a penny more for you. I couldn’t be more grateful for your support!


Ice Horse Tendon Wraps for icing legs

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These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves.


Thank you!