Unlimited access >

Horse With Ouchy Windpuff? (3 Vets, Not Much Help)

My mare (cob type) has had a windpuff on her left hind since April of 2020 (see pic for the day I noticed it) by July of 2020 she refused to trot in the pasture it hurt so much. Finally in August I got a vet to look at her and all they did was say “Strange” and give her a cortisone shot.

4 months later she was lame again and two more vets just shrugged it off. It has grown to twice this size (will add current pics tomorrow when I go to the barn), on the rare occasion I ride her she trips on that leg (It still hurts but she’s mostly sound so I don’t want to Bute her everyday)

The vet mentioned something about fluid and a tendon sheath.

Does anyone have experience with something like this? Any ideas to help? Cold hosing doesn’t seem to shrink it and its not hot.

(On another note, my mom still rides her despite me saying shes not allowed to, but nothing much I can do about that since its her farm)

Have any of these vets ultra-sounded the leg? I would want to see exactly what is going on in there. I’m sure others might disagree, but in waiting for the vet to actually make a diagnosis, I would think that judiciously applied topical DMSO might help with the edema.

But I wouldn’t stop talking to vets until I found one to do the ultrasound.


Doesn’t look like a windpuff. Can you have an ultrasound or x Ray?

Riding a lame horse is abusive. Her farm or not I would be protecting that horse.


If there is a lameness associated with tendon sheath inflammation (which is what that is), she probably has an injury to the tendon. A vet needs to ultrasound and possibly block her.


Keep trying to get your mother to understand that this horse is lame and should not be ridden.

I agree that it is time for some diagnostics. Does your vet do ultrasounds?


Can you move this horse to another barn for a bit while you diagnose the issue and rehab the horse?

There appears to be tendon sheath effusion and fetlock effusion. Since it appeared suddenly, is one sided, and associated with lameness, the usual step is to at least do some X-rays and ultrasound. But you could also do blocks to confirm where the lameness is coming from in the limb first. Because there isn’t heat in this area, the origin of inflammation could be higher up. You just probably can’t block and ultrasound in the same vet visit since the block fluid would need to dissipate to get a good image.

I’m sorry you have to deal with that :orange_heart:

1 Like

My first horse had pretty big windpuffs and from my experience they are pretty much cosmetic , as he never had an issue and I rode him hard 6 days a week.

I agree that your horse is more then likely suffering from something other than windpuffs. The swelling is odd. Why your vets/ parents won’t investigate further is puzzling.

Might be time for a summer job and get her treated properly on your own dime.


Were the vets limited in their diagnostics by owner budget? I have never heard of a vet shrugging off a visually obvious issue – unless they are restricted by what diagnostics they can do by their client’s check book.

Get the vet back out for ultrasounds.


Agree “windpuff” is a synovial effusion, cosmetic, no heat or pain associated with the condition. Usually the end result of an injury.

Lameness & hot, tender swelling for over a year is cause for concern.

Even lack of funds would not stop me getting this horse correctly diagnosed.

OP, do you not have a single friend with a trailer who can transport to a local vet college?
Better yet, a friend with a farm you can move the horse to so Mom can’t continue to ride her.

Is the windpuff hard or soft? Was there heat and swelling when it happened in April 2020 or when she was lame in July 2020?

So much time has gone by that really the lameness could be anything. Without a proper diagnosis in August 2020 you can’t really attribute her lameness today with that. To find out, you will need a thorough lameness exam to include flexions, x-rays and/or ultra-sound, maybe a block as well.

Can your vet advise your mom not to ride her? If you can’t afford the diagnostics, then she should rested and not ridden.

Is the windpuff itself painful on palpation? Or did it just show up at roughly the same time as the lameness?

I have a friend whose mare presented with a single windpuff (the benign ones typically come in pairs) that grew slightly over years. Eventually the mare developed some other body & behavior issues that led to The Big Workup at The Fancy Vet. When other body issues were resolved, she showed a mild lameness in this leg. Upon further further inspection - ultrasound & xray guided by what was originally thought to be artifact on scintigraphy – it turned out that the mare had developed a calcification within the DDFT and she was chronically re-injuring the tendon around the calcification as a result.

It sounds like you have something more dramatic going on, but this is my only experience with lameness associated with a windpuff. You need an ultrasound. (And also a way out of your boarding situation – start saving to pay a shipper!)

1 Like