What is Hock Fusion?

Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Allison Price

Hock fusion is a common problem in performance horses. But what can you do?

Hock Fusion

The treatment for osteoarthritis can be as simple as fusion of the lower joint of a horse’s hoof. This is when arthritic changes have caused cartilage to become too damaged and bone-on-bone contact has been made. Fusion is when the juncture of the two ends of two bones becomes a stable boney bridge and transforms into a mobile joint. This immobilizes the affected part of the hock. Because the joints of the lower hock have limited movement, fusion may be able to relieve pain and not hinder the horse’s gait. Sometimes fusion occurs naturally, but more often it is caused by a chemical or surgical process (see box). Consult your veterinarian if your horse has hock arthritis.

Hock Fusion

A Boot for Support

Back on Track offers therapeutic hock boots with Welltex inner lining and neoprene exterior. These boots reflect the horse’s natural heat to provide soothing warmth that eases pain.

How Hock Fusion Could Occur

Natural Fusion

Natural forces can sometimes fuse the affected joints when arthritic changes are causing pain. The process can take a while and the horse may still be experiencing pain after it is complete.

Alcohol Fusion

The cartilage lining is destroyed by ethyl alcohol when it is injected into the affected joints. This promotes arthrodesis or joint fusion. Local anesthesia is used on a standing, sedated horse to perform the procedure. The entire procedure can take up to one year. Although alcohol may temporarily block pain, it is not likely that the pain management will be permanent.
In the interim, it will be necessary.

Surgical Fusion

The surgeon removes the cartilage lining the joint and exposes the bone. This promotes arthrodesis. The horse is given general anesthesia for this procedure. The entire procedure can take over a year. Pain management will also be necessary.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!