windpuffs? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-18-2009, 12:03 AM Thread Starter
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Does anyone know anything about windpuffs? My TB mare has one (possibly two) along her front cannon bone. My friend who worked at a TB race barn said she's seen a lot of TB's with windpuffs, but that they are harmless. My question is... how do you get rid of them? And why do they appear? I've been hosing her legs down after each ride and using front boots for support. I've also been putting rubbing alcohol on the windpuff, as she suggested.

Any other ideas/thoughts?


ETA: The windpuffs are firm and not hot. She is also not lame and doesn't show soreness undersaddle.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

Last edited by Jubilee Rose; 07-18-2009 at 12:13 AM.
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-18-2009, 01:33 AM
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windpuffs are actually a collection of fluid either in the tendon sheath or in the joint capsule. they are a sign of excessive work in the horse and once your horse has had a windpuff its much more likely that it will reoccur. I believe that they go away after a time but i am not totally sure as i haven't had to much personal experience with them. i do know that concussive force can aggervate the windpuff because this causes the tendon sheath and joint to produce more lubrication which then collects and produces the windpuff itself. they can lead to tendonitis, bursitis or arthritis but i believe that this usually only happens in chronic cases. i do know that they ARE harmless and considered a blemish and not a lameness. i would just keep an eye on them and maybe excersise your horse with some sort of tendon boot or leg wrap on.

one thing to watch for though is heat as this is indicitive of something more serious than a windpuff. i dont know how much that helps but there you go!
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-18-2009, 02:57 PM
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My horse had chronic windpuffs until I pulled his shoes and kept him out 24/7. I've also heard that they can be from a salt imbalance. If you have free choice minerals make sure they're specifically for horses as the "livestock" ones have abotu 95% salt or more.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-20-2009, 07:22 PM
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My OTTB has one on his knee. I have been told it can be drained (and has been in the past), but it'll be back in a few months. His is a result of a slap fracture and comes with arthritis and a loss in range of motion.

This picture shows it pretty well:
Starship22 on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Even though the windpuff itself is cosmetic and doesn't bother him much, it comes with other issues, mostly a result of the arthritis. He has had it since he was about 7 and raced and won with it (though some jockeys refused to ride him because of it).

The way it was explained to me was that the membrane holding the fluids crept through the capsule (which is cracked as a result of the slap fracture) and the fluids that are necessary for lubrication are now in the wrong spot. It is not a solid thing, you can feel it has fluids in it.

We just got him fixed again after recovering from an injury, but he will need cortisone shots every so often to keep him going (once or twice a year). I was stubborn and tried everything else first, but 2 weeks ago his trainer picked him up and took him to his vet and now he is his old crazy fast self again.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-20-2009, 07:37 PM
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Windpuffs are generally left over from inflamed bursa that have stretched from inflammation and fill with fluid, they cause no lameness or soreness (after the initial inflammation has subsided) and are just eyesores. You can combat them by cold hosing when they first appear, but after they have established themselves are difficult to make disappear because as soon as the horse is put back into work and even over uses a tendon below the bursa, it will re stretch and fill with fluid. Draining wind puffs is costly, and in many cases ends up actually enlarging the wind puff, and the risk of infection is high.
If a "wind puff" is filled with joint fluid, then it is not a wind puff, it is a symptom of a joint problem and the horse will usually be lame. If a wind puff appears with any other lameness then it is not a "wind puff", it is a symptom of a worse condition (thoroughpin, for example). So, if it is absolutely benign then there is no reason to be worried or do anything beyond cold hosing. I would recommend against the alcohol too.
Good luck!
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-20-2009, 07:52 PM
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They are really one of the mildest signs that your horse had worked a bit more than they are used to. I've never had to much trouble with them and my horse never went lame, but I did notice them, fret a bit, poked, prodded, and then forgot they were there until I pick her hoof. It's not always your fault, if the horse was enjoying the work and he wasn't feeling any pain, he had no indication that he was taxing himself either, so you were probably never signaled by your horse to ease up a bit. They are just a natural reaction we use as a signal that to much stress is being put on the joint. Hard footing can be an equal culprit, so it could be what your riding on, not just how much. Don't canter on hard trails, and don't lunge in small circles for hours. Otherwise just keep an eye on them.

Troubled TB ~"A thorn by any other name will prick just as deep." @-'--,---
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-22-2009, 08:40 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your input!!

Anebel - How do you know if its full of fluid or not? Is the windpuff supposed to be firm or soft? And why do you not suggest using rubbing alcohol?

TroubledTB - I don't think its a sign of overwork, because I ride my horse maybe twice a week -- for about an hour each session and I always cool her out properly. She was basically out to pasture for the winter because we don't have an indoor arena to work in, but when I started riding her again in the spring, I didn't throw her full-force into it. I'm thinking that is more of a development from being a racehorse in her younger years... but I'm not sure. I really hope it doesn't mean arthritis.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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post #8 of 9 Old 07-24-2009, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Bump up!

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future'" ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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post #9 of 9 Old 07-25-2009, 03:33 AM
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I have a 8 year old QH mare that has had windpuffs since I have owned her (I bought her from a friend on a whim and didn't examine her all that thoroughly). I bought her as a lightly started 3 year old and shortly after I purchased her she had a serious hoof abscess (unrelated) and infection that needed to be treated by special shoeing to allow her hoof to regrow properly. She has been off and on sound ever since, but that has been thought to be because her coffin bone demineralized due to the infection in her hoof which has made her more sensitive in her toe region.

The windpuffs she has had over 4 years have been mostly unchanged, no heat, no increase or decrease, and the fluid filled area is "medium firm"...not sure how else to describe it. You can move the fluid but it quickly returns to the spot. Our farrier and vet are somewhat perplexed on what the real cause of her lameness is....we suspected navicular but she has no signs of heel pain or sensitivity and her xrays only showed the coffin bone slightly demineralized which our vet said should not affect her soundness.

I have found that existing windpuffs can be affected both by exercise, proper hoof trimming and stress and that when working horses, polo wraps during work and cold hosing afterwords can help. I haven't found that these methods can make windpuffs 'disappear' but my mare seemed very comfortable to me with the windpuffs when I used wraps and hosed her down after a workout.
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