Identifying and Treating Equine Corns
By Tab Pigg, CJF
Proper hoof care is essential to the horse’s well-being. Without regular maintenance, hoof conditions can develop, causing discomfort and often requiring costly treatment.
One such frequently-occurring condition is corns, or severe, visible bruising in the feet, which can become problematic if left untreated. When corns develop, it’s important to provide proper support and protection to return the hooves to good health.
Causes and Symptoms
There are two potential causes of corns. In shod horses, the condition occurs when the foot grows over the shoe where the sole, white line, and heel come together in the hoof. Corns can also develop when the coffin bone pushes down on the sole. In both cases, corns cause intense pressure in one area of the hoof, creating discomfort. To avoid injury, a hoof care professional should tend to the condition as quickly as possible.
The most common symptoms of corns include:
- Dark Bruising: Corns cause severe bruising on the foot in the seat of the corn. When this happens, hooves will likely need extra support to allow the horse to become comfortable again, and to heal.
- Discomfort: If corns are left untreated, the horse may stand or walk unevenly due to the irritation. It is vital to provide proper hoof care to avoid injury or lameness.
Unfortunately, there is no specific cause linked to corns. Regular maintenance and trimming can help prevent the condition, and assist with early detection.
There are different ways of treating corns depending on whether the horse is shod or barefoot. For the shod horse, shorter shoeing cycles may provide more support, or the horse may need a fuller-fitting shoe. This allows extra room for the feet to grow and relieves the pressure on the soles.
If a barefoot horse develops corns, pour-in pad materials can be used to help with the healing process and allow bruised feet to heal. Equi-Pak and Equi-Pak Soft are fast-setting, soft pad materials that bond directly to the sole and frog, and improve the depth of the sole. These soft packing materials soften the concussion between the coffin bone and the ground, so the horse has a soft layer of protection to help the hoof heal comfortably. For tender feet, they act as a cushion against abrasive ground surfaces. Equi-Pak Soft should be applied under a plastic or leather pad.
Because corns can develop at any time, it’s extremely important that hooves be examined thoroughly and trimmed on a regular basis, about every six weeks. A consistent hoof care regimen helps avoid conditions like corns and their associated discomfort and costly treatment.
Talk with your farrier or veterinarian about how pour-in pad materials can help manage corns, and make sure your horse is on an adequate maintenance schedule.
To learn more, visit the Vettec Hoof Care website.
This information was contributed by Vettec Hoof Care.