Bruised Sole

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Also Known As

Sore feet, Stone bruise


Bruises on the sole of the hoof occur when a horse steps on a rock or a hard surface in such a way that extra pressure is exerted against the sole of the foot creating a bruise. A bruised sole can also result from excessive hoof trimming or from laminitis which compromises the horse's hoof.

The bruise often results in the formation of a blood blister or hematoma between the sensitive tissues and the hard sole. The pressure resulting from this blood blister causes pain and lameness. Bruised soles are one of the most common causes of lameness in horses.


  • Sudden lameness usually in one leg
  • Pain in the sole area
  • Increased strength of pulse in heel arteries
  • Foot may feel warm to touch
  • Paring over area of sole pain reveals a visible bruise or reddened area


Accidental injuries to the sole of the foot can result in a bruise. Stepping on a rock or another hard object is probably the most common cause. When horses work on hard, rocky ground, the sole area is often exposed to uneven, hard suraces that can easily cause bruises.

A small rock may be caught in the grooves of the frog causing bruising. Removal of too much horn by aggressive trimming, and badly fitted or old, worn shoes that impinge into the sole area can also result in bruises. In some horses, a predisposition to thin soles exists and larger, heavier breeds seem to be more at risk than smaller horses or miniatures.


All horse's feet should be regularly trimmed and shoed by a qualified farrier and should always be picked and thoroughly cleaned out before and after exercise. Exercise and work on uneven, rocky ground should be avoided, particularly for thin soled horses. Too much time on hard, concrete surfaces should also be avoided.

Protective hoof pads are sometimes used for thin soled horses. Layers of rubber or leather are fitted between the foot and the shoe so the sole is covered. These pads should be used with care since they can be ineffective and in some cases detrimental to the foot health of the horse. Stones and other objects can become trapped between them and the sole.


When a bruised sole is discovered, the horse's shoes should be removed and the sole pared over the bruise to relieve weight-bearing pressure. Your farrier or veterinarian should be consulted about the best methods to use with your horse. Avoid excessive paring in thin soled horses to prevent severe pain in the horse's foot.

Most farriers and veterinarians recommend that a poultice and protective bandage is applied to thebruised area. To promote healing, the protective bandage is removed after 24 hours and replacedwith a fresh poutice and bandage for an additional 48 hours. When the foot is no longer painful, it is then trimmed and reshod.

A veterinarian should be called if the bruise develops into an abscess or if the horse does not make satisfactory progress. If the sole becomes infected, a tetanus shot should be given. A horse with a bruised sole should be given a few days without exercise for the bruise to heal.

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