Bruising injury to the sole may be focal (e.g. corns) or general. Bleeding occurs within the sensitive tissue beneath the sole. Lameness can range from acute, severe to chronic, mild or intermittent pain depending on extent and location of injury.
A variety of different causes must be differentiated. For example abnormal focal weight bearing on the sole between the bars and wall resulting in a “corn” may be due to improper shoeing (e.g. inadequate length or width of shoe) or long toe, low heel foot conformation. Bruising at the toe may be a consequence of another source of lameness elsewhere in the foot or limb or improper shoe position.
Generalised sole bruising may occur in flat feet with thin soles or following excessive wall trimming. Sporadic focal bruising can result from hard, uneven or stony ground. Diagnosis may be challenging as clinical signs vary between horses and over time. Acute or chronic bruising may occur. Response to hoof testers can also vary.
In acute cases signs of inflammation within the foot such as heat over the hoof wall and increased digital pulse amplitude may be present. Red discolouration may be evident over the sole but this is unlikely to be seen in chronic, deep seated bruising or on dark coloured soles.
Radiography can be helpful to identify a fluid pocket beneath the sole. In long standing case there may be evidence of secondary changes to the pedal bone within the hoof. Initial treatment involves systemic medication with non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g. phenylbutazone) and tubbing affected hooves in salt water.
Corrective trimming and shoeing are often pivotal and floating the shoe to avoid direct contact with the damaged area is crucial to allow healing. Bar or wide-webbed shoes and gel packing can also be useful in the recovery phase. We aim to work closely with individual farriers to achieve a prompt and effective resolution to this frustrating problem.
If required, our on-site farrier (link) is available one day a week for further remedial work. Pictures to insert; photo of solar bruise/corn, hoof tester application, feeling for a digital pulse, BT doing some corrective shoeing