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


Hooves Show Signs of Founder


Observant horse people recognize the appearance of a "foundered hoof". These feet typically show several signs in combination: a dished dorsal hoof wall, dropped or flat sole, a widened white line and obvious growth rings or lines on the hoof wall. These lines are usually spaced wider apart at the heel. Recognize that these changes in the feet are a sign of severe breakdown of the hoof structure.

Often the horse is lame or reluctant to move or walks stiffly. The appearance of foundered feet is more common in pony breeds and in obese-appearing horses, especially those that have grown obese on pasture.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you do not notice any lameness or stiffness.

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), paying particular attention to the presence or absence of lameness at the walk and trot. Consider the horse's general health, body condition and coat quality. Feel for digital pulse and heat in the feet. Inspect the soles of the feet for thrush, widened white line and dropped sole.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not purchase a horse with any of the signs discussed here, without first consulting your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet's task is to determine whether or not the horse has chronic laminitis and whether there are underlying disease processes like Cushings (PPID) or Insulin Resistance EMS present that will need to be treated in order to manage the laminitis.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • What signs do you see specifically?
  • Are you considering purchasing this horse?
  • Is the horse limping or lame?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do all four feet look similar to you?
  • How do the front feet compare in appearance to the hinds?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • How is the horse's weight or body condition score (BCS)?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP