Veterinarians' Roundtable

Q: Where does dorsal wall bruising come from and what can a farrier do to prevent it or help the healing process?

— California farrier

A: There are many factors that can cause dorsal wall bruising.

  1. Type of shoe. Toe grabs will increase dorsal wall bruising. Use the least amount that will still give the horse traction.
  2. Weather and ground conditions. Overly wet feet from muddy terrain or swampy areas soften the foot. When the hoof is faced with normal ground conditions, the hoof wall is not rigid enough and bruises. If the horse is standing in an environment that is too wet, the farrier needs to tell the owner. On the other hand, continual exposure to hard surfaces (racetrack or asphalt) will also cause bruising and may require a rim pad to decrease concussion.
  3. History or evidence of pedal osteitis. The edges of the coffin bone are abnormal and cause pain, leading to unusual landings and placing strain on the hoof wall. Meet with a veterinarian to radiograph the foot while the horse is standing on the plate. You can do a great job shoeing this horse, but if internal structures are painful, it won’t land normally and the horse will not be sound.
  4. Long-toe, low-heel. Most horses land heel first, but slow motion film shows us that some land toe first. These long-toe, low-heel horses bruise quickly. Also, these horses start to heel bruise and again land in an unusual manner, putting excessive force on certain parts of…
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