Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Bleeding from Pastern or Foot Area

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If bleeding seems excessive to you.
  • If you cannot stop the bleeding.

Very large and important vessels run down the backs of the pasterns right under the skin. The arteries (carrying blood away from the heart) are under high pressure. They are paired: one inside (medial) and one outside (lateral) and they supply blood to the rear of the hoof and the sole.

Because of their location, injury to these vessels is fairly common. When one is cut, it bleeds severely. Blood may spurt several feet, and you can often hear it hiss with pressure. If both digital arteries are cut, as sometimes happens, the blood supply to the foot can be threatened.


Do not panic. You can stop this bleeding using focused pressure and a pressure bandage. Keep your horse confined and calm. Until your vet arrives, apply controlled pressure and a pressure bandage to stop or slow the bleeding. Generally, blood loss from a wound to this area is not life-threatening, but blood loss can still be significant, so act quickly and effectively. Be sure to look at the linked skill and video.


Your vet assesses the wound and determines whether the vessels should be ligated (tied off), and whether closure of the wound with sutures is the best approach.

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

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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