Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Dished Front of Hoof Wall

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

A dished dorsal hoof wall is seen when the underlying bone (P3, coffin bone, distal phalanx), is pulled away from the hoof wall for any reason. It is indicative of a breakdown of the laminae that normally secure it in position.

This can result from primary weakening of those laminae (laminitis), or excessive pulling on the bone by the deep digital flexor tendon (contracted tendon). Some sound horses will have mild dishing of the dorsal hoof wall. This is often seen with an excessively upright hoof wall (club foot).


Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and look for other abnormalities. Walk the horse in a circle. Is it lame? Is there a digital pulse or heat in the feet? Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

If you understand the mechanics that result in this abnormality, you are in a better position to understand the cause and discuss the problem with both your vet and your farrier. If you are considering the horse for purchase, discuss this issue with your vet during the pre-purchase exam.


Your vet considers this a red flag and looks for signs of other problems associated with the hoof, including widening of the white line, dropped sole, lameness, heat and digital pulse, among others. They also consider the conformation of the hoof. As mentioned, this is a common finding in club-footed horses.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.