Heat in a Compensating Limb

An off-track Thoroughbred with a mild suspensory strain has heat in the opposing hock. Could this mean he’s compensating for the suspensory injury?
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Veterinarian examining horse
Your veterinarian can perform a thorough exam to determine the cause of the heat and whether it’s cause for concern. | Photo: Taylor Pence Photography

Q. I have a 3-year-old off-track Thoroughbred I purchased with a mild suspensory strain. He seems quite sound on it; however his hock on the affected leg is always warm compared his other hock and knees. Could this mean he’s compensating for the suspensory injury?

Jody, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

A. It’s difficult to say whether the notable heat in your horse’s hock is related to the suspensory strain in his history. With injuries to the hind-suspensory ligament origin, a horse can have heat and swelling that is typically localized on the inside of the leg below the chestnut.

I would recommend having your veterinarian perform a thorough exam to determine the cause of the heat and whether it’s a reason for concern. Further diagnostics, such as an X ray or ultrasound exam, might be necessary.

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Written by:

Rachel Gottlieb, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Northwest Equine Performance in Mulino, Oregon, a practice that focuses exclusively on lameness and performance horse issues. She’s also an associate team veterinarian for the United States Eventing Team. Gottlieb is a graduate of the University of California-Davis, where she also completed the Large Animal Ultrasound Fellowship. Gottlieb’s professional interests include sports medicine, musculoskeletal ultrasound, and regenerative therapy.

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