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


Growth on Frog or Sole of Hoof


Growths, lumps and bumps on the ground surface of the hoof, frog or sole, are a rare observation. They can result from very different conditions, each of which requires a particular approach to diagnosis and treatment.

After sustaining a wound, proud flesh (excessive healing tissue) can form on the ground surface of the hoof. It looks similar to proud flesh that develops elsewhere, a red growth. The same factors that cause proud flesh elsewhere also cause it to develop here and can be treated as it is in other places.

A nail or stone can become embedded in the hoof and can rarely look like a growth on the hoof.

Canker is a poorly understood abnormal growth that occurs on the frog or sole of the hoof. It is often described as a spongy white or gray colored mass that looks like wet cauliflower or cottage cheese. It is most common in moist environments and is more common in draft breeds.

Thrush is a common condition of the sole and frog, has a strong smell, and appears as a black paste. It usually is a destructive process, meaning that the tissue is being eaten away rather than built up as a growth.

A keratoma is a rare abnormal hoof wall growth that might be seen on the sole, just inside the hoof wall, as a deviation of the white line and sometimes accompanied by a bulging hoof wall.

These are the most likely conditions to cause a growth on the sole of the hoof. Each requires definitive diagnosis by a vet and requires a completely different approach to treatment.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.
    • If the mass is large, painful or seems to be growing rapidly.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.
    • If you do not notice lameness.
    • If the mass is small, non-painful or seems to be only growing slowly.

your role


What To Do

Assess the horse for lameness at the walk and consider their history. Did they wound or puncture their hoof recently or in the last few weeks or months? Press on the mass and see if it is moveable, and assess its firmness and texture. Take a photo of the growth on the hoof. Share the photo and your findings and concerns with your vet.

your vet's role

Your vet evaluates differences among these conditions using their exam, radiography and in rare cases, biopsy and other diagnostics. The treatment plan will depend on the diagnosis.

Your vet may recommend that you cover the sole of the hoof with a foot bandage until they can evaluate the horse.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you recall an accident or injury in the horse's history?
  • Where, geographically, does the horse live?
  • Does the horse seem to be limping or lame?
  • How does this foot compare in heat and pulse to the others?
  • Do you notice digital pulse and heat in the foot?
  • Can you send a photo of the problem?
  • What is the status of your horse's hoof care and shoeing?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP