Hoof Bruises

Of the many things that can affect your horse's hooves, bruises can be tricky to diagnose and treat.  With multiple possible causes, hoof bruises can create lameness and possibly advance into abscesses and laminitis for your horse.  Involving your Veterinarian and using supportive treatments, such as icing, can help your horse heal from a horse bruise quickly. 

Hoof bruises are one of the many things that can affect your horse’s hooves.  They can be the result of stepping on a rock, being trimmed incorrectly, or even stepping on some frozen ground at just the wrong spot.  Many hoof ailments present in a similar fashion, and you might notice some of the following in your horse:

  • Tender footed
  • Walking gingerly, especially on hard surfaces
  • Heat in the hoof
  • Strong or bounding digital pulse

What these things are a sign of – it’s not just limited to bruising!

  • Bruises
  • Laminitis
  • Fractures
  • Abscess
  • Puncture
  • Foreign Object - like a nail or screw
  • Horrible infection
  • Hot nail

Because a few of these things are life threatening (nail in the hoof, laminitis, puncture wound), calling the Veterinarian is the best thing you can do.  You should also know that some seemingly minor things can lead to bigger and more horrible complications, not to mention some huge Vet bills.  Also know that your Farrier is awesome at his job, but his job does not include diagnosis, treatment plans, medications, or working with the soft tissue of a hoof.

Bruises can show up as a hot pink, red, or purple coloration.  Some bruises are not obvious.  Sometimes your Vet will need to pull a shoe, trim some of the hoof, or do a bit more digging if an abscess is suspected. Bruises in your horse’s hoof are similar to a bruise on your leg - lots of broken blood vessels, swelling, pain.

Hoof bruises also run the gamut from totally mild and not lame, to horribly painful and very lame.    Some bruises take a few days to heal, others take weeks.  Some are caused by bad footing, some are caused by a rogue rock, some are caused by a frolic down a hard and unforgiving surface, some bruises are the result of a trim that is too short.

Treatments include stall rest, time, anti inflammatory agents, icing, hoof packings like magna paste, protective boots, or padded shoes.  Icing your horse’s hooves has multiple benefits, including pain relief, a reduction in inflammation, and healing support.

Complications can include abscesses and even laminitis.  Horses that are plagued with hoof bruises may have underlying causes, like thin soles or low grade laminitis.