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


Dished Front of Hoof Wall


A dished dorsal hoof wall is seen when the underlying bone (P3, coffin bone, distal phalanx), is pulled away from the hoof wall for any reason. It is indicative of a breakdown of the laminae that normally secure it in position.

This can result from primary weakening of those laminae (laminitis), or excessive pulling on the bone by the deep digital flexor tendon (contracted tendon). Some sound horses will have mild dishing of the dorsal hoof wall. This is often seen with an excessively upright hoof wall (club foot).

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • Even if the horse does not appear to be lame to you.

your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) and look for other abnormalities. Walk the horse in a circle. Is it lame? Is there a digital pulse or heat in the feet? Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

If you understand the mechanics that result in this abnormality, you are in a better position to understand the cause and discuss the problem with both your vet and your farrier. If you are considering the horse for purchase, discuss this issue with your vet during the pre-purchase exam.

your vet's role

Your vet considers this a red flag and looks for signs of other problems associated with the hoof, including widening of the white line, dropped sole, lameness, heat and digital pulse, among others. They also consider the conformation of the hoof. As mentioned, this is a common finding in club-footed horses.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this problem?
  • Does the horse have a known history of laminitis?
  • If the horse is lame, how lame?
  • Is this a very upright (club) foot?
  • How does this foot compare to the others?
  • Does the sole seem dropped, flat or convex?
  • Do you notice pronounced rings on the hoof wall?
  • Are you thinking about purchasing the horse?
  • What do you expect to do with the horse?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP