...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

A Windpuff or Windgall is a distension overfilling of the lubrication sac, or synovial sheath, between the middle inferior sesamoidean ligament and the long pastern, or of the cannon bone and the suspensory ligament.(1) They look like little dome-shaped capsules and are usually springy to the touch.

Windpuffs most often appear on the hind legs, due to very hard work. This can be the plowing of fields or the hauling of heavy wooden logs for days at a time. Windpuffs can also be a result of poor nutrition.

A horse that is on a heavy training schedule and then suddenly stands idle can also develop Windpuffs. (2)

The common sign of Windpuffs, if the horse is not lame, is a joint capsule distension and a fluid-filled swelling in the fetlock area. Sometimes they harden if it is a long-standing case, and this becomes a permanent blemish when the fluid swelling is replaced with scar tissue.

There is no effective treatment of this condition, and usually isn’t required unless there is lameness. (3)

Horses should not be over worked, in order to avoid this condition. Decreasing the amount of heavy work can help, if the condition is in the early stages.

However, the Veterinarian will dictate a resting period if there is lameness involved. Heat may be applied locally, with possible draining of the synovial fluid, along with an injection of corticosteroids in the affected area. (4)

Leg wraps may be used after injection.

Putting an elastic wrap over a sweat, after injection of steroids, may also be done, but this may only temporarily reduce swelling.

It is thought that perhaps some Windpuffs can result from improper venous drainage in the leg and fetlock areas of the animal. (5)

The Veterinary analysis will lean toward the conservative side, if there is no lameness involved, so draining the joint capsule and using an injectable corticosteroid may not take place.

If there is lameness present, it could be the result of bursitis, arthritis or tenosynovitis and the Vet will take proper procedure at this point. (6)

Obviously if the Windpuffs are occurring due to poor nutrition, proper steps should be taken to improve the quality and the quantity of feed, according to what the animal needs.

I have seen this condition on draft horses that I have owned in the past. The draft horses had been used extensively as plow horses in the fields prior to my owning them, and the Windpuffs did not dissipate, even after years of easy living with me.

A reminder that we are the caretakers and stewards of our animals and they should be treated with kindness and respect.

The aforementioned article is to be used as a guideline and not Veterinary analysis.

Always consult a qualified Vet if you - See Windpuffs page 11