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


Bleeding from Pastern or Foot Area


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.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If bleeding seems excessive to you.
    • If you cannot stop the bleeding.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

your role


What To Do

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 severe, so act quickly and effectively. Be sure to look at the linked skill and video.

your vet's role

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did this happen?
  • Where exactly is the wound and tell me more about it?
  • Can you send me a photo?
  • How lame is the horse?
  • Have you been able to stop or control the bleeding?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP