Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hesitant to Walk on Hard Surfaces

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

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

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If digital pulse is obvious in the limbs.

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

  • If this seems mild or occasional and the horse seems normal otherwise.
  • If you do not notice digital pulse or heat in the feet.

You notice as you ride, or lead your horse, that they intentionally seek soft ground and avoid walking on hard pack or gravel. Or they slow down and walk gingerly when asked to walk on hard surfaces.

This is usually a sign of foot soreness (tender soles). Often, a horse is described as if they are “walking on eggshells.” The rule-out diagnosis is laminitis, but there are many other conditions that can cause this sign. Horses that are recently trimmed or that have bruised or soft soles often behave this way.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), feel for heat and digital pulse in the feet. Lift all the feet and check the soles for packed material. Clean the soles of the feet with a hoof pick. Press on the soles with your thumbs to see how soft they are. A normal sole should feel hard and unyielding. Feel for digital pulse and heat in each foot. Assess for lameness at the walk, especially turning tight circles, both ways on firm ground. Rest the horse until the situation is treated or resolves. Consider shoeing or the use of boots to protect the soles. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet will consider the findings in light of the overall conformation and soundness of the horse and will rule out common lameness conditions. Once the cause for the behavior is better understood, treatment and management to optimize the horse’s comfort and performance will be more clear.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS or TherapiesTo Lessen or Resolve the Sign

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

CONTACT US

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

Sending