4 facts about stocking up

If both of your horse’s hind fetlocks become puffy in the dead of winter, chances are the cause is a relatively harmless condition known as “stocking up.”
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• Stocking up is most commonly seen in the hind fetlocks, with severity ranging from mild puffiness to an extreme swelling, giving the leg a “stovepipe” appearance. Stocking up doesn’t cause lameness or affect the gait, and each leg will be equally puffy.

Grumpy horse looking out of stall

Swelling of the limbs knows as "stocking up" is associated with inactivity and being kept in a stall for long periods of time.

• Stocking up is a relatively harmless condition that is a function of inactivity.

• Stocking up occurs when a horse stands still for extended periods of time. The equine lymphatic system, which is responsible for “pumping” excess fluids from between cells back into the circulatory system, works best when aided by movement of surrounding tendons, muscles and ligaments. So when a horse stands still for long periods of time fluids can accumulate, particularly in areas farthest from the heart.

• Treating stocking up is easy—you simply need to get your horse moving. Ride him, walk him by hand or turn him out with a pasture mate. With activity, swelling will usually diminish within the hour.  

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