Q: My horse has white hooves and (I think) due to his annoying habit of constantly kicking his stable wall, the side of his hoof is discoloured as if it is bruised. It doesn’t seem to be causing lameness though. Should I just ignore it?
RT, Te Awamutu
A: You’re correct, this discolouration is likely to be bruising from kicking the stable wall. Whilst it may not be causing any lameness problems at the moment, the habit and any resulting bruising isn’t something that should be ignored.
I recommend trying to come up with a solution for the stable kicking. There is some potential damage to hooves from repeated trauma of this nature. The hoof can split and crack or if the problem becomes excessive, there’s the potential for more serious injury – to the hooves and/or limbs (not to mention damage to the stable wall!).
The cracks we’d expect to see can occur higher up the hoof wall than the ones you’d normally see which start at the ground surface. A horizontal crack can open up when the hoof is placed under excessive forces from the wall kicking.
In order to find a solution, start by trying to ascertain why he is kicking the wall in the first place.
David Hankin Dip.WCF
This question and answer first appeared in NZ Horse & Pony magazine, September 2011