Common Hoof Problems

Nip hoof problems in the bud before they negatively affect your horse’s health.

From AQHA Educational Marketing Alliance Partner Country Living Association

Caring for your horses and their unique needs is important to their health and well-being. Horse hoof issues are more common than one may think and should be properly addressed before they negatively affect the health of your horse. Below are four common hoof problems:

  • Abscess – An abscess is an infection of the sensitive tissue of the foot. As a result, your horse might suffer from varying degrees of lameness, depending on the severity. Symptoms include the hoof being hot and an increased pulse. Once the abscess begins to drain, lameness usually subsides. Abscesses are most commonly found with hoof testers.
  • Crack – A hoof crack is a visible vertical crack in the hoof wall. Cracks are referred to by their location, such as toe, quarter, heel or bar crack. They can be superficial to the hoof wall or can deeply penetrate the sensitive structure. Healthy hooves do not crack as easily as dry, brittle hooves. The only treatment is to immobilize the hoof crack, preventing it from growing.
  • Sole Bruises – Sole bruises appear as red spots or specks on the sole and frog. They will vary in size, based on the extent of blood vessels affected. Bruises are often caused by trauma from a sharp object or excessive weight-bearing of the sole on rocky ground. Barefoot horses should be trimmed so they walk on the hoof wall, but hooves that are trimmed too short are easily bruised on any ground. Bruises should rarely cause lameness unless they are severe.
  • Corns – Corns start out as bruises of the sensitive sole in the angle formed by the hoof wall and bars. This angle, where the wall and bars meet, is the seat area where corns originate. Corns can be either dry or moist. A dry corn is a red bruise in the seat of the corn area caused by the horn tubular filling with blood from a ruptured vessel. A moist corn is yellow, with serum present. Corns can be caused by many things, including overtrimming the heels, heel calks, short-heeled shoes, unlevel shoes or leaving the shoes on too long.

Learn more about keeping your young horse's joints as healthy as possible with our FREE Young Joint Horse Health. Learn all about the signs, causes, treatments and prevention of Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD).

For more information on these conditions and how to treat them, visit

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