Windgalls - a problem or not?

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27 Apr 2009 16:30
Towards the end of last summer my 11 year old mare developed windgalls on all four legs, although worse at the back. I'd been doing a fair amount of cross country and galloping with her.

The livery yard manager advised me to take it easier with her and to use stable bandages overnight to reduce the puffiness, which I did once the nights got cooler through the autumn and winter - I've stopped them now though. She now gets a little puffiness after hard and fast work, but the windgalls seem to have settled down. I'll be keeping an eye on the situation now that cross country is underway once again.

I've read conflicting advice about windgalls - some people say you need to be careful as they could indicate the early stages of joint problems, while others say they're an inevitable part of ageing / wear and tear and nothing to worry about.

I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on the matter. Are windgalls something that need to be managed? If so, what practices do you recommend?

Many thanks for your advice!
Horse Hero Guru
16 May 2009 17:19
Sorry not to have replied before – I have only just found your message!

There are two types of swelling which are called a windgall – the fetlock joint can become enlarged or the digital flexor tendon sheath can be swollen. The amount of swelling depends on the work being done and the temperature (more swelling in warm weather).

Obviously if the swelling is over the tendon sheath and accompanied by heat and lameness/tenderness you must make sure that there is no damage to the tendon itself and this is best done by getting an ultrasound done by your vet.

Stable bandages can help keep the swelling down, but as with all bandages need to be carefully put on to prevent further damage to your horses legs. Always bandage a pair of legs, not just the one with a problem. Personally I find the best thing to use is tubigrip. Make sure you pull it to the top of the area to be covered so that you pull it (and the hair). I usually use a double layer – I pull it all to the knee, then slide one end down to the coronet, keeping the bulk at the top, so that I can then fold it down over the first layer.

04 Jun 2009 13:48
My horse also has devloped windgalls on both his hind legs, just above the fetlock. I'm glad to hear that they can be worse in warm weather, as that would explain why they've just come up again!

Does wet bandgaging help?? if so is that something I would leave on overnight? ALSO is the tubygrip to be put on for excercise, or when not exercising, if so how long for? at the moment i bandage his legs for exercise, is this the right thing to be doing?
Horse Hero Guru
04 Jun 2009 19:45
I would use the tubigrip in place of stable bandages, leaving them on overnight.

I would not recommend wet bandaging except for very short periods of time (20 minutes or so). Bandages that are put on wet will either shrink or stretch as they dry out, and could therefore cause more harm than good. It is far better to spend ten minutes or so cold hosing your horse’s legs.

I see from another post that your horse has also developed a splint. He is a big boy and I presume that he is still quite immature, as big horses take far longer to develop than their smaller friends. It might be worth considering why he is having these leg problems and to look at the work you are asking him to do which is possibly too much for his body at present.


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