Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Strange bruising

Bruising in the hoof wall is often something that worries owners - although of course in actual fact it only worries the owners of horses with white hooves, since the owners of horses with black hooves never see bruising ;-)

Normally, its not something that I am concerned about, because with (white-hooved) horses who work hard on varied terrain, its quite common for them to occasionally have a bruise in the hoof wall which you can see, but which does not cause them any problems. These "normal" bruises are much more common on hind feet and are usually small and irregular. As I have 3 or 4 white feet on most of my hunters, its something I see a LOT!

I imagine they are usually caused by an impact from a rock or stone - and if you watch horses going up a really steep, rocky path its easy to see how it can happen. I always think its a bit the same for those of us who work predominantly outside - you will nearly always have a knock or bruise somewhere but will hardly notice it - its just one of those things.

One client's horse though has lots of bruising on his front feet, and last time I saw him both I and his owner were worried about how much bruising there was. I knew he was on an excellent diet, and lived in an environment which was ideal for hooves, so we were really puzzled about what could be going wrong.

Eventually, though, we worked it out: this horse is completely blind in one eye, and has poor vision in the other. He had lost his sight gradually, and knows his home so well that you would never guess he had limited vision as you watch him move around. The problem is that he is now very prone to banging his head, and damaging his eye, because of his restricted vision, so he has developed a way to protect himself - he uses his front feet to test out where he is going.

Of course, this saves his head and eyes, but does make him much more prone to bruising his front feet. There is always a reason, you just need to find it!