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Bruised sole

When a horse steps on stones or irregular ground, it runs the risk of sole bruising, which is a haemorrhage involving the sole of the foot. Sole bruising most commonly affects the front feet.

Which horses are at risk?

Any horse is at risk of sole bruising if they walk on rocky ground. However, some breeds, such as Thoroughbreds, are at greater risk because they tend to have thin soles and/or flat feet.

How do I know if my horse has a bruised sole?

You will notice some signs of lameness. Depending on the level of injury and the site of injury, the lameness may be sudden and severe or may be quite mild and appear only occasionally.

In mild cases of sole bruising, your horse may display a stiff or stilted gait, especially when trotting.

If you notice severe lameness, contact your vet for an assessment – you need to ensure there is no other cause for the lameness.

How is sole bruising treated?

This will depend on the severity of your horse's pain and lameness. Your vet may decide to prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, combined with soaking the foot in Epsom salts to reduce inflammation.

In some cases, your vet may recommend therapeutic shoeing.

Ideally, you should rest your horse to help prevent further trauma during the healing process.

How can I prevent sole bruising?

For horses that continually bruise their soles, the use of shoes with or without pads may be recommended.