Where Is The Fetlock On A Horse?

Fetlock is a term used for the joint where the cannon bone, the proximal sesamoid bones, and the first phalanx (long pastern bone) meet. The pastern is the area between the hoof and the fetlock joint.Fetlock is a term used for the joint where the cannon bone, the proximal sesamoidsesamoidThe sesamoid is a small nodular bone most often present embedded in tendons in the region of the thumb. Calcification of sesamoid bone is one of the important features of pubertal growth spurt, which is earlier in females than in males. Absence of sesamoid bone indicates delay in reaching puberty.https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Sesamoid_bone

Sesamoid bone – Wikipedia

bones, and the first phalanx (long pastern bone) meet. The pastern is the area between the hoof and the fetlock joint.

Where is the dock on a horse?

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Where is a fetlock located on an animal?

The fetlock joint, or ankle, rests between the cannon (third metacarpal) and the long pastern (first phalanx) bones. Tucked behind the fetlock joints are a pair of sesamoid bones encased in the flexor tendons.

What is the purpose of a fetlock on a horse?

Injuries and disorders in horses fetlocks (ankle joint) The fetlock joint itself is a complicated high motion joint which is subjected to extensive force during locomotion, supported by several soft-tissue structures which play a vital role in supporting the horses movement.

What causes fetlock injury?

Causes include poor conformation, improper shoeing, or repeated jarring injury from working on hard ground. Trauma and infection, especially wire-cut wounds, are other causes. In light horses, the condition may result from strains on ligaments and tendons in the pastern region.

What to do if your horse has a swollen fetlock?

Always rest a horse with a potentially injured leg until your vet can assess the problem. Assess the affected area yourself, feeling for heat, a pain response to pressure or flexion of the limb, reduced range of motion, or any other abnormalities. Send a photo of the swelling to your vet.

What is the purpose of a fetlock on an animal?

noun [Associated with foot or fetter and lock.] An instrument fixed on the leg of a horse when put to pasture, for the purpose of preventing him from running off.

What is the difference between pastern and fetlock?

As nouns the difference between fetlock and pastern is that fetlock is a joint of the horse’s leg below the knee or hock and above the hoof, also called the “ankle” while pastern is the area on a horse’s leg between the fetlock joint and the hoof.

Can a horse recover from fractured fetlock?

The outlook for recovery in large fractures at the base of the fetlock bone is poor, regardless of the treatment. Very severe damage to the suspensory ligaments, including fracture of both sesamoid bones, is a catastrophic injury and can cause a compromise of blood flow to the foot.

Can a horse heal from a broken fetlock?

The less complicated the fracture, the more likely the horse will recover. Greenstick and stress fractures are incomplete fractures, and these can be treated successfully. Simple fractures, where there is one clean break, are more likely to heal successfully than shattered bones.

How do you treat Windpuffs in horses?

There is usually nothing you can do to prevent the formation of windpuffs. Even bandaging and sweats will only temporarily decrease the effusion, which will usually return a few hours after bandage removal. Once windpuffs have developed, there is rarely anything that can be done to correct them.

Is a fetlock the ankle?

While sometimes the fetlock is colloquially referred to as an “ankle “, even by horse experts, that terminology is not correct. The fetlock is a metacarpophalangeal joint which corresponds to the human upper knuckle, such as that on the ball of the foot.

What is a dropped fetlock?

The dropping of the fetlock causes the distance from the hip socket to the fetlock to increase and as a result straightens the limb structure. Wide open angles at the stifle and hock, such as these, are known as post-legged structure. As DSLD progresses, the horse becomes more and more post-legged and coon-footed.

Should I wrap a swollen fetlock?

Wrap down to cover the fetlock joint and then back up, ending on bone, not tendon. Wraps are used during work to protect the lower legs from bumps, either from the horse’s own feet or jumps, and to provide some support to the fetlocks and tendons/ligaments.

Can a hoof abscess cause fetlock swelling?

If a hoof abscess has worsened over time, it can cause inflammation and swelling that extends into the pastern and even further up the leg past the fetlock joint. The pastern or heel bulbs and the coronary band may also be swollen.

What causes Windpuffs?

Windpuffs may be caused by an acute insult or trauma and the tendon sheath is stretched, allowing for extra accumulation of fluid, but the horse is no longer lame. Some horses have windpuffs on all four legs, or on both hind legs, where there is effusion in the tendon sheath.

Where is the Fetlock On A Horse

A ‘horses fetlock’ is the name given to the junction between a horse’s cannon bone and pastern bone, which is also known as the horse’s ankle. The sesamoid bone is located at the back of the fetlock joint and is a tiny bone with a rounded shape. The horse’s leg, in contrast to the human ankle, is devoid of muscles and is more closely related to our fingers than it is to our arms or legs. The fetlock joint itself is a sophisticated high-motion joint that is subjected to significant strain during locomotion.

Fetlock injuries in horses may involve the joint itself or the surrounding soft tissue and are a prevalent problem in high-performance and sports horses, where they are frequently caused by strains or other injuries to the joint.

Fetlock injuries and disorders

There are several different forms of fetlock injuries that can occur in horses. The most often reported kind of injuries are those that do not result in a fracture of the bone. Fetlock injuries, including osteoarthritis, can occur as a result of repetitive motion of the joint. An infection of the fetlock joint (also known as synovitis or capsulitis) can occur, as can the supporting ligaments (Suspensory ligament branch and the Distal Sesamoidean Ligaments), which are responsible for stabilizing the joint (Sesamoiditis).

  • Osteoarthritis of the fetlock joint is a frequent illness that is not associated with any clinical symptoms.
  • Another typical injury to a horse’s fetlock area occurs in high performance horses (such as those competing in eventing and barrel racing) and is caused by a strain or tear to the Suspensory Ligament, which is located at the base of the fetlock joint and attaches to the fetlock joint.
  • Along with damage to the fetlocks, some horses suffer from a condition known as ‘fetlock drop,’ which is a genetically inherited disorder in which the horse’s connective-tissue breaks down in an excessively rapid manner.
  • There are more serious disorders that can occur in the fetlock area such as chip fractures, when portions of the fetlock joint break away from one another, causing inflammation and damage to the cartilage, which can lead to arthritic pain and other difficulties.

Breaks in the joint are the most serious type of fetlock injury to suffer. These are more prevalent in horses who are very active and leap, and they can result in the worst case situation.

Common methods used to treat horses fetlock injuries

It is necessary to have a veterinary specialist examine the animal in the outset. In the beginning, this examination will discover the horse’s range of movement as well as a variety of associated lameness. An MRI scan will most likely be performed as part of the subsequent diagnostic. To effectively treat any fetlock injuries, it is critical to allow for rest and healing. Following that, injections into the joint will be performed, with low-dose corticosteroids in conjunction with hyaluronic acid serving as a joint lubricant being used most frequently as the primary therapy.

  • New regenerative medical approaches, such as stem cell therapy and plasma therapy, are now accessible, as well as new technologies (PRP, Platelet Rich Plasma).
  • Rest and a closely regulated exercise program will always be necessary in the treatment of these ailments.
  • The use of screws to compress a fracture and restore joint strength can be effective in treating simple fractures in some circumstances.
  • With the advancement of technology in magnetic treatment and other alternative therapies, many horse owners are turning to less conventional means to assist their horses’ continuing fetlock care, employing a variety of gadgets and equipment to accomplish this goal.

Fetlock – Wikipedia

Themetacarpophalangeal andmetatarsophalangealjoints of horses, big animals, and occasionally canines are referred to as fetlocks in popular use (MCPJ and MTPJ). Although it appears to be comparable to the human anklein in appearance, the joint is really more akin to the ball of the foot in terms of function. Rather than representing the entire foot, thehoof corresponds to the toe in anatomical terms.

Etymology and related terminology

An untrimmed tuft of hair on the fetlock of a light-colored, non-draft breed of horse that is typical. Many draft breeds have feathers or feathering covering their fetlocks and hooves, and here is an example of one of them. The term fetlock is derived from the Latin word for “foot-lock,” and it refers to a tiny tuft of hair located on the back of the fetlock joint. In some breeds, the term ” feather ” refers to the exceptionally long, luxuriant hair development along the lower leg and fetlock that is distinctive of the breed.


The skeleton of the lower forelimb is seen here. A fetlock (also known as an MCPJ or an MTPJ) is formed by the junction of the thirdmetacarpal (in the forelimb) or thirdmetatarsal (in the hindlimb) bones, either of which are commonly known as thecannon bones, proximad and the proximal phalanx distad, which is commonly known as thepasternbone.

A fetlock is formed by the junction of the thirdmet The paired proximal sesamoid bones form the joint with the palmar or plantar distal surface of the third metacarpal or metatarsal bones, and they are permanently fixed to the proximal phalanx’s proximo-palmar or -plantar edge.

As a hinge joint

The fetlock is a hinge joint (ginglymus), which allows flexion and extension but only a minimum amount of rotation, adduction, and abduction (see illustration).

Anatomy compared to that of humans

The fetlock is occasionally incorrectly referred to as a “ankle,” even by horse professionals who are well-versed in the proper terminology. Located on the ball of the foot, the fetlock is a metacarpophalangeal joint that correlates to the human upperknuckle, similar to that found on the ankle.

Problems with the fetlock

It is estimated that the fetlock is implicated in around 50% of catastrophic racing injuries in thoroughbred race horses.

See also

  • Dyce, K.M., Sack, W.O., and Wensing, C.J.G. Textbook of Veterinary Anatomy and Physiology (2nd Ed.). p. 591 in W.B. Saunders’s 1996 edition

Understanding fetlock damage

  • This joint is created by the union of the cannon bone with the long pastern bone (the fetlock). The joint is composed of two sesamoid bones at the rear of the joint, across which the flexor tendons travel, and it is supported by ligaments that span the cannon and pastern bones, respectively. When a horse is galloping or jumping, the joint practically touches the ground when the animal’s whole weight is supported by the joint. Injury to the fetlock can occur as a result of routine stress paired with poor conformation and/or a lack of fitness. In order for a veterinarian to properly diagnose a horse with a swollen fetlock, it is necessary to determine the location of the swelling and whether the horse is lame. A soft swelling filled with synovial fluid that develops near the back of the fetlock is known as a windgall. They are observed in a large number of horses and are rarely a source of concern. Articular windgalls are a swelling of the joint pouch between the suspensory ligament and the cannon bone that can occur in the shoulder joint. Horses frequently have little articular windgalls in all four fetlocks, which are common in the breed. If there is no discomfort when bending the joint and no lameness, there is typically nothing to be concerned about. Inflammation of the tendon sheath that can be observed between the suspensory ligament and the flexor tendons is known as tendinous windgalls. The majority of horses have tendinous windgalls on the rear fetlocks, which can be painful. If they are drained, there is no benefit to treatment since they tend to refill with synovial fluid. Wear and tearArthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is a prevalent condition in athletes. An initial injury such as a kick, a chip fracture, or wear and strain might cause them to develop later on. Because of the injury to the articular cartilage, there is greater friction between the joint surfaces. When the joint is flexed, it becomes uncomfortable and somewhat swollen. Initially, the horse may seem intermittently lame, but the lameness may grow more serious following vigorous exercise, necessitating the need to consult a veterinarian. Rest is recommended as the first step, followed by regulated exercise. The veterinarian may choose to inject medications straight into the joint. DJD, on the other hand, is an incurable disease. Infection of the joint A septic joint will result in increased lameness as a result of the infection. It is most commonly caused by a penetrating wound from a wire or a kick, but it can occur when any foreign substance penetrates the sterile area of the joint capsule as well. The horse’s leg is in such acute pain that it can hardly hold the weight of its body on it. There will be swelling, heat, and discomfort in the fetlock, as well as a tiny cut that will likely be evident. If you feel that you have a septic joint, call your veterinarian immediately since the joint will need to be flushed with saline solution.
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The fetlock: Everything you need to know about this complex joint *H&H Plus*

  • In this article, Laura Fitzharris MRCVS and Evita Busschers MRCVS look into the specifics of this complicated joint and the injuries that can occur in this region. The fetlock is a high-motion joint with a structure that is comparable in both the forelimbs and the hindlimbs, making it a good choice for athletes. The fetlock joint is the articulation between the cannon bone (third metacarpal and third metatarsal bones in the forelimb and hindlimb, respectively) and the long pastern bone (first phalanx), with two sesamoid bones positioned at the back of the joint to stabilize the joint and provide stability. Soft tissue structures are connected with the fetlock, which is stabilized by collateral ligaments that are found on both the inside and outside of the joint. The fetlock is composed of many soft tissue structures. A branch of the suspensory ligament attaches to the sesamoid bones, while another branch begins at the rear of the cannon bone and travels down the back of the leg. Cesamoid ligaments are placed further down on the fetlock and pastern at the rear of the leg, and they are made up of five different ligaments that connect the sesamoid bones with one another as well as with the cannon and long pastern bone. The suspensory apparatus is comprised of the suspensory ligament, the sesamoid bones, and the sesamoidean ligaments, and it is this component that is responsible for the majority of the high load placed on the fetlock joint during the stance phase (when the leg or foot is on the ground during the weight-bearing part of the stride). Located at the rear of the leg, the flexor tendons aid in the stabilization of the fetlock joint by providing some extra support. This means that the fetlock moves largely in one way, either flexion during the swing phase of a stride when the leg is in the air, or extension during the stance phase of a stride when the horse is weight-bearing, depending on which direction is preferred. There is very little twisting or side-to-side mobility of the fetlock joint. The fetlock joint is particularly vulnerable to damage during the canter, gallop, turning, and leaping because of the wide range of motion and heavy stress.

An improvement in the lameness

Fetlock injuries are most commonly manifested as an atypical swelling affecting the soft tissues and/or the joint itself. In rare circumstances, a thorough physical examination might reveal that the fetlock is the source of the issue. When diagnostic anaesthesia is necessary, a local anaesthetic is injected into the leg, numbing the affected area of the limb, and the procedure is repeated. When the region where the pain is concentrated is desensitized, a reduction in the degree of lameness is observed.

  1. Radiographs (X-rays) are used to evaluate the bone structures of the body and are frequently used as the initial line of investigation.
  2. Because of the availability of portable X-ray and ultrasound devices, various procedures can be completed in the yard under specific circumstances.
  3. Injuries to the fetlock can be classified into three categories: soft tissue injuries, bone injuries, and joint injuries.
  4. Because all of these components are tightly connected to one another, it is feasible that several injuries occur during the same traumatic episode.
  5. Injury to these ligaments can occur in any horse, however horses with heightened athletic function are at greater risk of suffering an injury.
  6. An extended period of complete rest followed by regulated exercise rehabilitation is typically required to facilitate the repair of injured tissues.

In some cases, regenerative medicine can be utilized in conjunction with traditional treatment. The prognosis is dependent on the severity of the damage, however some horses are able to recover to full athletic function after suffering a traumatic injury.

Acute single overload

Subchondral bone injury (such as bruising of the bone close to the joint) and fractures, which can result in either tiny pieces within the joint or a severe fracture of the cannon bone, long pastern bone, or sesamoid bones, are the most common types of bone injuries. In the field of orthopedics, it is well understood that persistent alterations in the subchondral bone caused by recurrent damage can alter the mechanics of the bone, resulting in a diminished capacity of the bone to withstand the stresses experienced during exercise, which can subsequently result in a fracture.

  • Surgical fixation with screws or even a plate may be required in the case of major fractures.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans, which is a developmental condition, can cause smaller pieces to accumulate in the joint as a result of fractures or other trauma.
  • During arthroscopic surgery, it is possible to remove fragments (surgery of the joint).
  • Changes in the joint might occur as a result of another type of damage to the joint (such as a fracture within the joint or a soft tissue injury surrounding the joint).
  • The presence of this condition can result in lameness and does not always imply alterations in the bones or soft tissues (primary synovitis).
  • Older horses are more likely than younger horses to develop osteoarthritis in the fetlock joint, which is caused by damage to cartilage and bone.
  • Although cartilage damage cannot be reversed, it is generally possible to control the discomfort and limit the advancement of the condition by changing the way you exercise and taking anti-inflammatory medications in conjunction with your doctor.

Treating a field injury

Jack is a 12-year-old Irish Sport Horse gelding that is utilized for a variety of riding activities at the riding club. Jack came from the field one day with swelling surrounding his fetlock joint and was unable to walk on his right hind limb. The radiographs revealed multiple tiny pieces within the joints, and an ultrasound test revealed injury to one of the sesamoidean ligaments during the procedure. It was hypothesized that Jack had had an acute traumatic incident in which the foot remained on the ground while the rest of the body and limb twisted, resulting in a twist at the level of the fetlock joint, which was later discovered.

Jack returned to full duty after nine months of rest and regulated exercise rehabilitation (as well as a lot of hard effort on the part of his owner). He had been out of commission for nine months. HorseHound; 12 November 2020 (reference)

Fetlock Lameness – It’s importance…

The relevance of fetlock lameness and how MRI might aid in establishing the tough diagnosis are discussed. Dr. Robin Belland is a neurologist who specializes in pain management. Leo Jeffcott is a professor of English. The Equine Performance and Imaging Center is located in the University of Sydney Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Camden, Australia. When it comes to performance horses and racehorses, lameness involving the fetlock joint is an all-too-common complaint. An injury to this region may impact the joint itself or the soft tissues around it, and the severity of the injury is frequently decided by the horse’s usage.

The iconic film photographs made over 120 years ago by the American photographer Eadweard Muybridge (seen above) vividly demonstrate the extent to which the fetlock extends while galloping in the horse.

The good news is that the majority of fetlock issues are pretty straightforward to identify.

palpation), evaluation of gait (particularly under saddle), reaction to flexion tests (figure 3), and nerve blocks or desensitisation of the joint itself, as we have detailed in the previous two articles.

Injury to the bones that does not involve a fracture, such as osteoarthritis, inflammation within the fetlock joint itself (synovitis, periarticular inflammation, capsulitis), or the ligaments supporting the fetlock joint; injury to the bones that does not involve fracture, such as inflammation of the sesamoid bones (sesamoiditis).

  1. Fractures affecting the joint, such as condylar fractures of the cannon bone or fractures of the long pastern bone, are considered major fractures.
  2. Veterinary examination, localization using nerve blocks, and the use of diagnostic tools are all phases in the same process as those discussed in our previous two articles for diagnosing these issues.
  3. These horses will typically show signs of illness on x-rays, such as bone spurs or flattening of the condyles of the cannon bone, but in the early stages of the disease, the alterations may only be detectable using magnetic resonance imaging.
  4. Low-dose corticosteroids used in conjunction with hyaluronic acid (a joint lubricant) have been shown to be extremely efficient in reducing inflammation inside the joint and treating lameness in horses.
  5. This medicine works by amplifying the horse’s own, naturally produced anti-inflammatory mediator, which is then re-injected into the joint once it has healed.

Although regenerative medicine products such as stem cells and PRP (platelet rich plasma) injected directly into the joint are promising new treatments for fetlock joint arthritis, there is currently insufficient evidence to demonstrate that they are actually effective in the treatment of the condition.

  • Suspensory ligament branch desmitis is another highly common injury of the fetlock region, and it is most often observed in horses that compete in dressage.
  • These tears can be noticed on an ultrasound scan, and horses may exhibit swelling around the afflicted branch, which may be hot or uncomfortable to the touch when inspected closely.
  • The injection of stem cells or other regenerative medicine products into a discrete hole within the ligament has shown genuine promise in terms of expediting healing and lowering the rate of re-injury in circumstances when the hole is small.
  • In most cases, surgical removal of chip fractures or pieces within the fetlock joint is preferable than non-surgical removal.
  • It is feasible to keep a horse in work and in good health even if it has chip fractures, but doing so frequently hastens the onset of osteoarthritis and may lead the horse to stay lame even if the chips are surgically removed at a later date.
  • Major fractures involving the fetlock joint are most common in racehorses.
  • The prognosis for more acute fractures, particularly those involving many pieces, is quite bad.
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Desmitis is a sesamoidean ligament that can be seen in both straight and oblique positions.

2) in the fetlock.

In this case, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can aid in the diagnosis of the injury and may also provide some insight into how the injury is healing during the therapy phase.

In horses with suspensory ligament branch injuries, injections of regenerative medicine products are showing some potential as an adjuvant therapy that may be used in conjunction with other treatments.

In these cases, surgical intervention is required.

As a result, we’d like to provide you with information about the potential benefits of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in three ways: 1) what MRI can detect for us, 2) provide a case report in which MRI was critical in making the correct diagnosis, and 3) provide preliminary research that will be useful in future cases of fetlock injury.

  1. The damaged area is shown by arrows, as is the fracture line by a line.
  2. The fundamentals of magnetic resonance imaging MRI is a technique that employs a magnetic field and radiofrequency pulses to create a picture of the body part being scanned based on the magnetic properties of hydrogen ions in the body part being imaged.
  3. Radiology imaging (MRI) offers extremely detailed soft tissue pictures, which can be used to detect subtle abnormalities in joints, tendons, and ligaments.
  4. This is helping us to more properly identify and more effectively treat a wide range of problems, allowing us to return these horses to performance much more quickly than we would have been able to do otherwise.
  5. Take note of the many imaging planes as well as the amount of bone, joint, and soft tissue detail shown in this image.
  6. 2.
  7. X-rays and ultrasounds of the horse’s fetlock joint revealed no substantial alterations, despite the fact that it had lameness that could be localized to the joint with nerve block treatment.
  8. MRI images of the fetlock revealed a large amount of bone bruise in a relatively small location.
  9. A series of MRI scans of the same horse revealed signs of substantial bone bruising (white region of bone in picture (b), as shown by the arrows).
  10. There were no signs of cartilage abnormalities or other joint injury, and the horse was able to return to work without incident.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Research This so-called bone bruising in young racehorses (condylar disease), which occurs frequently in the condyles at the bottom of the cannon bone and may be a precursor to catastrophic fractures in that region, is being investigated using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Camden.

We are currently working on a research to investigate the fetlocks of racehorses that have been euthanized for a variety of reasons.

Performing flexion tests on the horse and examining the horse under the saddle are both critical procedures in determining whether lameness is originating in the fetlock.

However, although the diagnosis of these conditions is frequently straightforward, advanced diagnostic modalities such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or nuclear scintigraphy may be required in order to ensure that an accurate diagnosis is reached, thereby increasing the likelihood of your horse returning to full performance.

Take note of how far the fetlock extends in a typical horse when it is galloping, with the back of the fetlock practically touching the ground.

This is a fantastic representation of the demands that are imposed on this section of the body in performance horses, and it is a must-see. The original version of this story appeared in the May 2011 edition of THM.

Prevent Fetlock Injury in Your Dressage Horse

If your horse’s pasterns are long and sloping, and his fetlocks exhibit excessive drop, or hyperextension, during movement, it’s likely that you’ve been concerned about the influence of this structural trait on his soundness and longevity as a performance horse. And you’d be absolutely correct to be concerned. The fetlock joint and the supporting structures that surround it are critical in supporting the mobility of your dressage horse during competition. They must maintain their health and strength.

  • (Photo courtesy of Dusty Perin/As an Amazon Associate, Dressage Today may get a commission if you make a purchase after clicking on one of our referral links.
  • The fundamental anatomy and biomechanics of the fetlocks of your horse are essential to understanding how to effectively protect your horse’s legs.
  • These structures include the deep digital flexor tendon (DDFT), the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), and the suspensory apparatus, among others.
  • When it sinks, the supporting structures are stretched as a result of the weight of the ship.
  • What occurs when there is an excessive amount of fetlock drop?
  • In a less-than-ideal situation, the increased strain placed on those supporting structures results in damage, lameness, and, in the most severe cases, disintegration of the structure.
  • The first step in protecting your horse’s soundness is to identify the source of the problem.

You may be seeing that one of your horse’s front or hind fetlocks is dropping more than the fetlock on the other side, which might indicate that the opposite leg is suffering from low-grade weight-bearing lameness.

An alternative explanation is that injury to the supporting structures in the leg, such as the SDFT or suspensory apparatus, might cause an excessive drop in the fetlock.

If one of these tissues fails, the fetlock joint will drop excessively during the weight-bearing portion of the stride.

DSLD (degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis) was formerly used to refer to this condition.

It is believed to be inherited by many horses.

Over time, the hock and stifle joints will become more straight, giving the horse a post-legged look.

It is a horribly painful, degenerative condition that is frequently overlooked by well-intentioned owners who mistakenly relate its appearance to simple conformational differences.

He or she can undertake an overall soundness check, inspect your horse’s fetlocks, and administer stress tests to evaluate whether or not this is a more serious issue than a mere conformation characteristic.

First and foremost, make certain that your horse’s feet are in correct balance.

A solid heel support system will be necessary to address this condition, and it may be more successful if you maintain your horse on a shorter shoeing interval—as little as four weeks between sessions in some cases.

Watch his fitness and conditioning closely, and avoid repetitive tasks that might put a strain on his soft-tissue structures.

Consult with your veterinarian about completing an annual examination, which should include flexion tests, to ensure that he is still in good health and strength.

In addition to being a competitive dressage rider, she has won multiple Regional Championships and Horse of the Year accolades during the course of her riding career.

Barb Crabbe, DVM’s books can be found at the following link: The Comprehensive Guide to Equine Veterinary Medicine is a comprehensive resource for equine veterinarians. The Equinology® Approach to Equine Bodywork: Anatomy of Equine Bodywork

Fetlock Sagging Low, Hyper-Extending (in Adult)

Observation What you see is what you get. Your observations should serve as the beginning step for resolving any horse health-related concern.


The fetlock joint is not the horse’s ankle at all, according to its anatomical structure. Specifically, it is the forelimb’s metacarpo-phalangeal joint, which is the forelimb’s counterpart of the middle (upper) knuckle joint. (The fetlock on the rear leg corresponds to the middle metatarso-phalangeal joint on the front of your foot.) Located in the lower limb of the horse, the fetlock is an exceptionally dynamic and sensitive joint – a very high-motion, vital component of the sophisticated system of the horse’s lower limb.

The suspensory ligament is the tendon that is most frequently implicated in the modest sinking of the fetlock when this occurs.

Horses come in a wide variety of typical conformational variations.

Sagging fetlocks are prevalent in elderly horses, particularly in older brood mares that have given birth to a large number of foals.

Code Orange

Contact your veterinarian during their first available office hours.

  • If you find that the symptom is becoming worse
  • If there is discomfort, swelling, or lameness, get medical attention.

Code Yellow

Make an appointment with your veterinarian whenever it is most convenient for you.

  • Assuming you believe this is a persistent and relatively minor condition that is not changing fast
  • Although the horse appears to be uninjured to you, it may be.

It’s possible that you’re also paying attention.

your role

In addition to the overall health of the horse, the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) should be performed, with special attention being paid to the fetlocks for signs of swelling, soreness, and difficulty elevating and flexing the leg. In addition to developing lameness, look for signs of increased difficulty moving, including inability to stand with a hind limb up (resistance to the farrier). Inform your veterinarian of your findings and any concerns you have. If you believe your horse’s performance is declining, the condition is worse, or the horse is lame, you should put the animal on a rest until your veterinarian can assess the situation.

Skills you may need

You may be required to conduct procedures on your horse at some point.

your vet’s role

Your veterinarian can rule out DSLD as a diagnosis, and he or she may request additional tests to determine the underlying reason. Questions Your Veterinarian Might Ask You:

  • Observe whether there is swelling in the fetlock region. What is the movement of your horse? If the horse is lame, what kind of lameness is it? Inquire as to the horse’s age, gender, breed, and previous history. Is the horse limping or is it injured? It is important to know whether the horse is a Peruvian Paso or has Peruvian Paso parentage. Is your horse showing signs of suffering or pain? When did you first become aware of the situation
  • What kind of horse is it
  • How old is it
  • Who knows what the outcome of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) will be. Do you see the horse stomping or transferring its weight back and forth on its hind feet?

Diagnostics Your Vet May Perform

Identifying and addressing the root source of the problem. These are tests or procedures that your veterinarian will use to discover what is wrong with you.

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The underlying source of the problem. This is a list of diseases or ailments that are causing the observations that you are making.

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A method of resolving the issue or diagnosing the problem.

Identifying and treating the underlying causes of disease or treating the symptoms of disease (symptomatic treatment) Doug Thal, DVM, Dipl. ABVP is the author of this article.

Fetlock – an overview

Joint Disease in the Horse (Second Edition), by Christopher E. Kawcak and Myra F. Barrett, published in 2016.

Traumatic Arthritis/Osteoarthritis of the Fetlock Joint

Osteoarthritis of thefetlockjoint is a frequent condition that can manifest itself slowly and without apparent reason. Fragmentation, fracture, and luxation are all known causes of osteoarthritis, and therapies are targeted at slowing or avoiding the progression of the condition. Insidious OA is characterized by a gradual deterioration of clinical symptoms such as synovitis, capsulitis, restricted range of motion, and discomfort over time. OA is most likely caused by the accumulation of damage over time in sportsmen such as racehorses, who are particularly susceptible to the disease.

  • A wide variety of clinical indications can be observed, with the earliest signs including synovial effusion, restricted range of motion, and recurrent lameness being the most common.
  • As previously said, these instances necessitate a more in-depth diagnostic investigation.
  • The diagnosis of mild injuries can be difficult, and it is frequently necessary to use volumetric imaging to accurately define the pathogenic process.
  • ESWT treatment combined with intraarticular medicine can be used to effectively treat synovitis and capsulitis.
  • Although there is no evidence that they are effective in avoiding cartilage degradation, we have observed positive results based on the resolution of clinical symptoms.
  • For more severe lesions, more constant treatment and tight control and oversight of activity are generally essential to prolong the career and athletic abilities of horses with fetlock OA.
  • Use of stem cells may be needed, however effectiveness connected with severity of OA is uncertain.

The prognosis for treating OA is variable and relies on joint injury severity, usage of the horse, and expectations for the animal. Read whole chapter URL: W.Ross, inDiagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition), 2011

Fetlock Height

Equitation should be evaluated in the stationary horse as well as while moving the horse forward. Ideally, the fetlock height of a standing horse should be symmetrical, assuming that the animal is loading the limbs evenly. Horses with severe lameness would frequently “point” or hold the limb in front of the opposing forelimb, allowing the limb to be relieved of its weight. This standing posture clearly generates a discrepancy in fetlock height, but the significance of this disparity should be considered carefully.

  1. This condition occurs most often in racehorses due to acute, traumatic disruption of the suspensory system, but it can also occur in horses with chronic, active desmitis (Figure 5-2).
  2. During the standing posture, in horses with modest flexural deformities of the metacarpophalangeal joint, dynamic knuckling (buckling forward, flexion) of the fetlock joint may occur (Figure 5-3).
  3. In horses with significant flexural deformity, it is impossible to attain normal fetlock positioning.
  4. Read the whole chapter at this link: Anesthetic Drugs and Techniques In Equine Anesthesia (Second Edition), 2009, Roman T.Skarda and John A.E.Hubbell provide an overview of the subject.
See also:  How To Get Rid Of Charlie Horse In Toes? (Question)

Intraarticular fetlock block

Thefetlockis one of the most routinely injected joints because it is so simple to inject. Inserting a 2.5-cm, 20-gauge needle into the lateral palmar pouch distal to the splint bone and dorsal to the annular ligament of the fetlock at a depth of roughly 0.5 to 1.5 cm results in the induction of an intraarticular fetlock block (seeFigure 11-23). It is possible to dilate the joint capsule on the medial side by applying digital pressure to the region between the cannon bone (third metacarpal bone) and the suspensory ligament.

Read the entire chapter.

Fetlock Drop

In order to identify the lame limb, it may be necessary to do an assessment of offetlockdrop, or extension of the metacarpophalangeal and metatarsophalangeal joints. In general, while the sound leg is weight carrying, the fetlock joint of the sound limb descends more than the fetlock joint of the lame limb. This is because the horse is attempting to spare the lame limb by increasing the stress on the sound limb during weight bearing. Using video analysis, this may be simpler to identify than it would be in a clinical setting, and it may also be more noticeable while walking instead of trotting.

When there is bilateral suspensory desmitis or severe tendonitis, the fetlock may descend even deeper in the lamer limb than it already has.

Read the entire chapter here: URL: The Metatarsophalangeal Joint is a joint in the middle of the foot.

2011; Mike W. Ross, Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition).


Deformities of the fetlockvalgus and varus joints impact the MTP joint in foals, but the most serious is the fetlock varus deformity, which must be treated as soon as possible (seeChapter 58). In the hindlimbs, the majority of normal horses have a minor toe-out conformation, however in certain horses, toed-out conformation may play a role in unequal load distribution and might impact hindlimb movement and performance. Toed-out horses have a tendency to move close behind and stab laterally during limb advancement, which results in an excessive amount of lateral shoe wear and foot imbalance.

When a horse is extremely straight behind, the MTP joint exhibits an inordinate degree of extension (or dorsiflexion) relative to the rest of the body.

Predisposition to injury in horses with bull-nose foot conformation and long, weak hind pasterns has been shown to exist (seeChapter 4,Figure 4-34).

Read the entire chapter here: URL: System A fourth edition of Equine Emergencies (Equine Emergencies) was published in 2014.

Fetlock Laxity

When it comes to foals, fetlocklaxity is the most prevalent flexural malformation. Increased fetlock joint extension is a sign of laxity in the hip joint. The forelimbs, the hind limbs, or all four limbs may be affected by laxity at the same time. The majority of the time, this is a self-limiting condition that resolves as the foal grows strength. Physical activity should be restricted during this period, since excessive activity may result in sesamoid fracture. The use of heel extensions in extreme situations, when the fetlock is close to or actually touches the ground, helps to restore normal weight bearing and tendon stress (Fig.

Extensions are available in a variety of materials, including wood, plastic, and metal, and they can reach caudally to the end of the weight-bearing fetlock.

However, the attachment should not be so firm that it causes avulsion of the hoof wall if the foal steps on the heel extension when it is first installed.

Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging: The Horse, by Charles S.


Acutefetlocksprains are typically accompanied by symptoms such as heat, swelling, and discomfort, as well as lameness. Although magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is capable of creating some excellent pictures, it comes at a high cost. Ultrasound, on the other hand, is the most widely available, fastest, and least expensive method of making a diagnosis. Sprains are classified based on the degree and amount of ligament damage, which is discussed in further depth elsewhere in this book.

Figure 5-42 depicts fetlock edema associated with an acute second-degree sprain; Figures 5-43 and 5-44 depict cases of acute and chronic sprain-avulsion-fractures, respectively. Read the entire chapter at the following URL: in the Dressage Horse

Svend E.Kold and Sue J.Dyson, in Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition), 2011. Svend E.Kold and Sue J.Dyson, in Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition), 2011.

Synovitis or Osteoarthritis of the Metatarsophalangeal and Metacarpophalangeal (Fetlock) Joints

Fetlockjoint disease is not a prevalent condition in dressage horses, and it does not appear to be as common in this sort of equestrian sport as it is in other types of equestrian sports. One possible explanation for this is the absence of galloping through typically hard and uneven terrain that is associated with cross-country jumping. It is determined whether the diagnosis is correct with palpation and intraarticular analgesia. The use of an intraarticular corticosteroid (e.g., 10 mg of triamcinolone acetonide) in conjunction with 2 mL hyaluronan in horses with synovitis, or 1 mL of PSGAG in horses with more long-standing OA has frequently been shown to be effective in the absence of radiological abnormalities.

In general, the response to medicine is favorable, and the chance of recurrence in the forelimbs is minimal.

Horses exhibiting radiological anomalies associated with osteoarthritis (OA) should be given a more cautious prognosis.

limb (web address) The author, Alicia L.Bertone, published an article in Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery (Second Edition), 2014.


When used in athletic activities such as racing or jumping, thefetlockjoint can demonstrate the highest range of motion of any equine joint, spanning 120° of extension to 120° of flexion. This is especially true when used in sports such as racing or jumping (Fig. 15.1). Because of the high level of activity, this joint is particularly sensitive to exercise-induced wear, and the fetlocks are frequently associated with injury and symptoms of degenerative joint disease. The pastern joint, on the other hand, has a limited range of mobility, with a maximum range of motion of only 30° in the typical horse (Fig.

  1. In comparison to the fetlock, the pastern is less commonly injured or worn down due to degenerative wear, despite the fact that its placement directly above the hoof and at the terminal of the suspensory apparatus makes it particularly prone to high-impact traumatic damage.
  2. They are more susceptible to fractures and disintegration due to a combination of high-impact loading during sports performance and the distal placement of the joints in question.
  3. Dean W.
  4. Dyson’s Diagnosis and Management of Lameness in the Horse (Second Edition), published in 2011, is an excellent resource.

Imaging Considerations

Because of its size and accessibility, thefetlockjoint is simple to visualize and correctly model. It is possible to detect small lesions by taking a large number of flexed and oblique radiography pictures that precisely silhouette or segregate structures. The same advantages apply to scintigraphic and ultrasonographic imaging as they do to conventional imaging. A lesion in the palmar aspect of the fetlock, for example, can be distinguished by flexing lateral scintigraphic pictures, which can assist establish whether the base of a PSB or the palmar surface of the McIII is involved.

Because of the size of the area and the absence of overlaying soft tissues, even with portable x-ray equipment, wonderfully detailed radiographs may be obtained provided appropriate screen–film combinations are utilized, or if computed or digital radiography is available.

Consider the following scenario: If subchondral damage to the distal palmar aspect of the McIII is suspected, oblique pictures should be obtained in a direction that is closer to the distal than typical.

5Though osteochondrosis of the sagittal ridge of the McIII and incomplete sagittal fractures of the proximal phalanx can be difficult to detect in overexposed lateromedial images or underexposed dorsopalmar images, digital radiography has significantly reduced the need for multiple exposures using different techniques.6 It is vital to refer to the position of soft tissue attachments in the fetlock region in order to make an appropriate interpretation of the results.

6Nuclear scintigraphy has shown to be an extremely important technique in the evaluation of the fetlocks of active racehorses, owing to the high number of injuries that affect those joints, particularly the distal metacarpal/metatarsal condyles, and the fetlocks are no exception.

Scan pictures taken with the hand flexed lateral and dorsally can be particularly useful in distinguishing between palmar metacarpal and PSB uptake.

The use of ultrasound to evaluate the fetlock can be beneficial in identifying tendon and ligament injuries around the fetlock, particularly those involving the digital flexor tendons, the palmar annular ligament (seeChapter 74), and the dorsal synovial pad/plica, as well as injuries to the bone margins.

13-15Computerized tomography (CT) 13-15(seeChapter 20) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (seeChapter 21) can also be highly useful in the fetlock, particularly in places such as the distal palmar McIII condyle, the axial aspect of the PSBs, and the periarticular soft tissues, among other things.

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