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The Issues Behind a Capped Hock

December 3, 2012

A horse’s capped hock can just be a cosmetic issue, but without further examination, it could also be a bigger problem.

Ask an ExpertQuestion:

Does a capped hock have a lasting effect on the physical performance of a horse that may be used for racing?

For the answer to this question, the American Association of Equine Practitioners consulted Dr. Kerry Beckman.


A capped hock is a distension of a bursa (fluid-filled sac) at the point of the hock. This is usually the result of an injury to the area, or the horse repeatedly kicking the stall wall.

An uncomplicated capped hock is considered to be only a cosmetic problem for the horse and will not affect athletic performance. However, if there are underlying complications, such as infection or damage to nearby bony or soft-tissue structures, there may be a detrimental effect on performance.

When purchasing a horse with a capped hock, I recommend having the area evaluated by radiography and ultrasonography to ensure that there are no other lesions present.

— Dr. Kerry Beckman, member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners