Barrel racing is a high-speed discipline, and horses put tremendous strain on their joints—particularly the hocks—to propel themselves around the barrels. With repetition, just about any equine sport can contribute to inflammation of the joints, and barrel racing is no exception. That’s why for many equine athletes, joint therapy is a critical piece of their overall health management. These experts unpack what hock injections can do for your horse and clear up a few common misconceptions.
Why Joint Therapy?
Marty Tanner, DVM, is a specialist in equine sports medicine for many Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association and Women’s Professional Rodeo Association competitors. He works out of Elgin Veterinary Hospital in Elgin, Texas. Tanner says the nature of barrel racing lends itself to hock pain, and hock issues are the most common issue he treats with barrel racers.
“Barrel racing is a high-speed sport associated with a high-speed turn, and that puts torque on the hocks. Those hocks will get a certain degree of soreness from time to time,” Tanner said. “You can alleviate that soreness so they can perform to the maximum of their abilities.”
For barrel racers, Josh Harvey, DVM, founder of Outlaw Equine Hospital and Rehab Center in Decatur, Texas, says he most often injects the TMT—the outer—and DIT—the inner—joints of the hock, which are the lower two of the four joints located in the area—also the two he says cause the most problems for performance horses.
“A lot of these horses are genetically predisposed to fusing in these joints, so sometimes we will have barrel futurity horses that are already fusing in the distal hock joints very early,” Harvey said.