A bruised sole is a painful hoof condition that is a frequent cause of lameness in horses. The condition is most commonly observed in horses with a history of wearing horseshoes, that have recently had them removed. This practice is occurs quite commonly by horse owners, either in an attempt to reduce costs associated with monthly farrier visits, with the intention that it will ultimately help build strength in horses which may have poor quality hooves, or due to prolonged stall rest needed to aid in recovery from an illness or injury.
Flat-footed, low-heeled, and long-toed horses are more likely to suffer from this condition. It can occur during an event or immediately after it ends. Sometimes it can occur intermittently, where clinical signs are observed when the horse is asked to walk over a hard or rough substrate--such as gravel, rock, and/or frozen soil.
The degree of pain resulting from bruised soles is variable from mild to severe, depending on the horse's pain tolerance, hoof sensibility, and the ground substrate. Horses with bruised soles are at risk of infection in the hoof resulting in abscesses, osteopathic lesions or solar margins of the distal phalanx.