Wind Galls

Also Known As

Wind puffs

Description

Wind galls, also known as wind puffs, are soft synovial swellings that develop slightly above and behind the fetlock joint, due to an over-secretion of joint fluid, caused by irritation to the joint surfaces or joint capsule.

Wind galls may also occur in other joints and tendons. Although commonly occurring on the front legs, they may occur on the hind legs of horses involved in jumping activities. Wind galls can occur without lameness, and they tend to increase in size with work.

Symptoms

  • Soft swellings near joints and tendons
  • Firmer swellings in the area of the fetlock

Causes

Wind galls are caused by irritation to the joint surfaces or joint capsule. Occasionally, they are also due to excess tendon fluid in the tendon sheaths, behind the fetlock joint.

Over-work in young, heavy horses, especially on hard surfaces, poor conformation (usually with long, straight pasterns), incorrect trimming of the hoof, tearing of ligaments, tendons, or joint capsules, and injuries to articular cartilage in the joint contribute to the development of wind galls.

Prevention

By addressing the causes of wind galls, most of these swellings can be prevented. Making sure that horses, especially young, heavy horses, are not over-worked on hard surfaces, that proper shoeing takes the horse's conformation into consideration, and treating injuries to tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules promptly will decrease the number of wind galls.

Treatment

Modification of training and work programs will lead to reduction of the irritation and inflammation that causes wind galls. In some cases, the swellings may be drained by a veterinarian and injected with a corticosteroid, although this is mainly for cosmetic reasons. Once a horse develops wind galls, they tend to recur when activity is increased.

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