What are Bruised Soles?
Bruised soles are a common problem with horses because of the ‘unnatural’ surfaces which they have to walk over. Wet ground means the soles become softer and more prone to damage. The sole of a horse’s foot is insensitive but it covers the sensitive structures underneath and so an injury to the sole can also cause damage to the blood vessels which will result in bruising. See my blog.
- Sudden lameness, slight or severe
- Some horses appear to get better one day before being lame again the next day
- Once the sole is cleaned you can often see the bruise (a reddened area where the blood has collected)
- The foot may be hot
- Possibly an increase to the digital pulse
Some horse have thinner soles than others and so are more prone to bruised soles.
- Treading on a stone
- Badly fitted shoes
- Excessive work on hard ground
The vet (or farrier) will use hoof testers to identify the damaged area. They will then pare away the sole to reveal the reddened area. It is advisable to call the vet because if the horse has an abscess and not just a bruise and the abscess is left untreated it can lead to infection in the foot bones.
Removal of the shoe is the first step and the sole pared, this will help relieve some of the pressure. The vet may suggest poulticing the foot to ensure there is no infection or applying a protective pad of Gamgee and a bandage to provide a ‘cushion’ for the sole. Once the foot is no longer painful the shoe can be replaced. Rest.
Regular trimming of the feet and shoeing by a qualified farrier. Picking out feet daily and before exercising to ensure there are not stones caught which could cause damage. If your horse has thin soles then avoiding uneven or stony ground is a good idea. Hoof pads are available which are made from rubber or leather and are fitted by the farrier between the hoof and shoe. These can be beneficial in some cases but stones can sometimes be trapped between the pads and soles. Also, the pads mean you can’t see the sole and frog to check for any problems!
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Until next time!