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


Drainage from Coronet above Hoof Wall


The coronet band is essentially the cuticle of the hoof, from which the hoof wall is generated.

Drainage from under the hoof wall at the coronet occurs most often when a foot abscess (that cannot drain through the hard tissues of the hoof) tracks upwards and breaks out at the coronet band. Other possible causes of drainage here include puncture wounds and embedded foreign bodies. These can be serious injuries because damage to the coronet may compromise the horse's hoof wall as it grows out. Horses with severe acute laminitis may have changes to the appearance and feel of the coronet band, and even some drainage. This is a sign of very serious damage. Infected collateral cartilage (Quittor), can also cause drainage near the coronet.

There are other critical structures near or deep to the coronet band that could be involved in injuries here, and that could complicate a wound. These include the coffin joint and flexor tendon sheath.

Horses that are very lame at the walk usually have a closed infection like an abscess, laminitis, a fracture or infection of joint or tendon sheath.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If there is severe lameness accompanying this sign.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If you do not notice lameness.

your role


What To Do

Assess lameness at the walk. Determine whether the drainage seems to be coming from the skin in contact with the hoof wall or originates away from the coronet itself. Promptly contact your vet with your findings and concerns. Photos may be useful to describe the situation.

What Not To Do

Do not assume that the injury causing the drainage is minor because the injury is small or otherwise not very dramatic. Wounds to this area can be life threatening.

your vet's role

Your vet must quickly determine whether this problem is serious. The coronet band is a sensitive and important area and there are critical structures right under the skin. Failure to promptly diagnose and treat a problem in this location appropriately could result in severe and permanent lameness.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How lame does the horse seem to you?
  • How is your horse's attitude and appetite?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Where does the drainage seem to be coming from?
  • Do you see an injury, foreign body, or swelling?
  • Tell me more about the color, smell, and quantity of the drainage.
  • Is the drainage pus or blood?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
more diagnoses

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP