What can you do for hock sores? (Or elbow sores, or fetlock sores for that matter....)
Hock sores are a tricky thing to manage! The hock is one area of your horse that moves a lot, and when he lays down and gets up, his hocks are always on the ground. Ideally, you will manage your horse's environment so that these buggers never happen. Easier said than done, right? Once they do happen, what do you do?
First let's talk prevention. Good, deep, non abrasive bedding does the trick usually. What works for one may not work for all. If your horse has options about where to sleep, chances are he will sleep where you least expect it. A nice fluffy stall? No, he would rather sleep in the outdoor run with hard ground.
The beginnings of a hock sore - notice the crumpled hairs.
If your horse develops hock sores, there are some things you can do. First is to think about the bedding. Often, you will see the hair on the point of the hock get shorter and roughed up by bedding before you see a sore. Heed that warning! Change the bedding if you think you need to, or add more if you can. I have seen hock sores start to develop from rice hull bedding, and I've also seen it from regular shavings. Strangely enough, I have also known horses that live outside and sleep/roll/play in the sandy dirt and never have a scratch. Go figure!
Here's a good trick for the evening if you do see your horse starting to get a sore. A very sticky piece of medical tape will hold to your horse's hock at night quite well. Cut a square, about 3 inches by 3 inches, and use a cotton ball or folded gauze with some medicine to cover the sore, then add the medical tape.
If your horse has very slick hair, like after applying a shine product, this will not work so well. You should probably skip the slickery treatments until after the sore is healed. You should also use an ointment or cream that your vet would suggest. Keep in mind - any ointment based with petroleum will limit oxygen to the sore and delay hair growth. So - use sparingly. You may opt to let the sore air out during the day.
Hock boots are also an option if your horse will tolerate wearing them. The Hock Shield is a highly adjustable and elasticized hook boot that's lined with soft fluffy fleece. If you have an open sore, you must cover the sore with bandaging so the fleece doesn't irritiate the sore. This bandaging also helps the Hock Shield stay in place. Learn more on the Hock Shield website here, and follow them on facebook here!
One more tip about the super sticky elasticized medical tape - it gets stickier when you let it hang out in some warm temps (like your car), which will help it stay on overnight.
How do you deal with hock sores?