What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Wound to Hoof Wall, Piece is Pulled or Torn Off


The equine hoof wall is in many ways akin to your fingernail. Damage to the hoof wall heals similarly to a human fingernail, as it must grow out from the base. An important difference, however, is that the horse bears all of its weight on its hoof while this process takes place.

The coronet band generates the hoof wall. Any injury to the coronet can result in a permanently deformed hoof. Wounds to the hoof and coronet can carry down across the coronet and tear loose a piece of the hoof wall. In other cases, a piece of the hoof wall is pulled off when a shoe is yanked off by a horse at speed. The veterinary term for a hoof wall that is torn off is hoof wall avulsion.

The severity of hoof wounds depends on how much disruption there is to the coronet band and the deeper architecture and structure of the hoof. The severity of lameness is usually related to the severity of the wound.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If you wish to have the best functional and cosmetic outcome, no matter the cost.
    • If you are concerned by the size and severity of the wound.
    • If severe and obvious lameness is visible at the walk.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you have questions about the healing of the wound.
    • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

your role


What To Do

Assess the wound and take a photo if possible. If the avulsed hoof wall is small or near the ground surface of the hoof and the horse is not lame, send the photo to your vet, farrier or both. The horse may or may not need prompt veterinary care.

If a shoe has been pulled loose or bent, it may need to be removed. Wounds that involve the coronet band or are causing lameness should be seen by a vet.

For severe wounds to the hoof, bandage the hoof in a loose fitting, absorbent bandage and put the horse in a stall until it can be evaluated by your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not apply antibiotic products to the injury, unless advised to do so by your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet considers the anatomic structures involved, and attempts to stabilize and protect these. If the coronet band is involved, they consider options to try and realign or support it, because the future quality of the hoof wall will depend on it.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice the wound?
  • Can you send a photo?
  • How lame does the horse seem to you?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • What is the horse used for?
  • How much bleeding is there?
  • Does the wound appear fresh to you?
  • When do you think the wound occurred?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP