A hoof or sole bruise is a common injury in horses, occurring when there is trauma to the sensitive tissues within the hoof. This trauma leads to localized bleeding and subsequent bruising.

Hoof bruises can cause mild to severe discomfort and lameness, and if left untreated, can potentially lead to further complications. [1] Affected horses may exhibit sensitivity to pressure, alterations in their gait and behavior, and inflammation in the hoof.

The treatment of hoof bruising often involves a combination of therapies, including corrective trimming and shoeing, rest from work, and pain management. It is also important to address any underlying factors that contributed to the formation of bruises. [2]

If you suspect your horse has a hoof bruise, seek assistance from a veterinarian or farrier. They can conduct a thorough examination, provide an accurate diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment to ensure comfort and soundness as well as prevent further injury.

Sole Bruises in Horses

Hoof or sole bruises, refer to localized areas of tissue damage and associated hemorrhage within the sensitive structures of the equine hoof.

These bruises are typically caused by external forces or direct trauma, such as repetitive concussion, impact from objects, or stepping on hard surfaces. Contributing factors include excessive workload, poor hoof care, and rocky terrain.

Bruising can occur in different areas of the hoof, including the sole, frog and the structures within the hoof capsule. Corns are a specific type of hoof bruise that develop near the heel, between the hoof bar and hoof wall.

Horses affected by hoof bruises often display changes in their gait (lameness) and behaviour, as well as signs of inflammation in the hoof and sensitivity to pressure. [3]

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Hoof Anatomy

The horse’s hooves play a key role in supporting their body weight, absorbing concussive forces during movement, and providing stability on varying terrain. [4]

Proper hoof confirmation and balance are critical to overall soundness. The hoof should be proportional in size to the rest of the body, and trimmed regularly to maintain balance. [5][6]

The horse’s hoof can be broken down into two main components- the hoof capsule and sensitive internal structures. The hard outer layer (hoof wall), sole, frog, and heels encapsulate the internal structures of foot, providing protection and stability. [3]

It is a common misconception that the sole is the weight-bearing surface of the foot. This is false! Rather, the outer rim of the hoof wall is the primary weight-bearing surface for the horse. Nonetheless, because the hoof capsule is a dynamic structure, the sole and frog may be recruited for weight-bearing in different footing conditions or during exercise (increased concussive force).

The internal structures of the hoof include blood vessels, nerves, connective tissue, and bone (coffin and navicular bones), which are essential for maintaining the health and biomechanical function of the distal limb.

Corns- A Specific Type of Sole Bruise

Corns are a type of hoof bruise that develop as a result of excessive pressure or trauma to the heel region of the sole,