Hoof bruises are always a big deal for horses.


Hoof bruises are nothing to glaze over and hope they get better. Your veterinarian can help you figure it out, and come up with a treatment plan that makes you and your horse happy and comfortable. The problem with hoof “stuff” is that many things look like many things – so it’s impossible without your veterinarian. Hoof bruises are often hidden under a layer of the sole, so you might not even see the bruise.

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Causes of hoof bruising:


  • Any trauma to the hoof can cause a bruise.  More commonly found causes include:


    • impact with a stone or other hard structure
    • exercise on hard ground
    • improper trimming and/or shoeing
    • thin soles are a contributing factor and increase the risk of brusising


Signs of hoof bruising:


  • Your horse is tender-footed and reluctant to move forward
  • Obvious lameness
  • Walking gingerly, especially on hard surfaces
  • Heat in the hoof
  • Strong or bounding digital pulse


What these things are a sign of:



Call the vet 


  • Because a few of these hoof conditions are life-threatening, like a nail in the hoof, laminitis, and severe lameness, do NOT mess around and wait to call your vet.


  • 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.


hoof bruising along the hoof wall

Notice the pink border along this hoof. That’s a bruise.


What do hoof bruises look like?


  • Bruises can show up as hot pink, red, or purple on the hoof wall or sole, or even along the edge around the white line.


  • Some bruises are not obvious. Sometimes your vet will need to pull a shoe, trim some of the hoof, or do 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, and pain.


Hoof bruises also run the gamut from 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 too-short trim.


  • Treatments include stall rest, time, anti-inflammatory agents, icing, hoof packings like magna paste, protective boots, or padded shoes.


hoof boot support pads

Boots and boot inserts/pads can help your horse be more comfortable!


Complications from hoof bruises can include abscesses and even laminitis.


  • Horses plagued with hoof bruises may have underlying causes, like thin soles or low-grade laminitis. The bottom line (bet you thought this article wouldn’t have any bad jokes…) is that sole bruising stinks – and it’s best to get your veterinarian involved as soon as possible.



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Magic Cushion takes the sting out of hooves

Equine Epsom Salt Poultice


Ichthammol 20% Ointment (14 oz) (Drawing Salve) – for your first aid kit and hoof care

These affordable boots can be filled with ice to help your horse.


These Cloud boots are great for the horse that needs extra cushion, like the horse with laminitis



Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Black – thick-soled hoof boot for riding and hoof wrapping.

EasyCare Easyboot Glove Soft Hoof Boot – these boots are designed for riding, not hoof packing, and have a more precise fit.



These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves. They last for hours.

This tall boot can be filled with ice or ice packs to help the horse with laminitis.

The best-known hoof supplement


Hoof and joint supplement

The gold standard in hoof dressings

AniMed hoof Supplement




Thank you!




hoof bruises are a big deal