Corns are simply bruises of the sole, which occur at the ‘seat of corn’. This is the part of the sole which lies between the bars and the wall at the back of the sole.
Beneath the sole lies sensitive blood filled tissue called laminae. This tissue connects the sole to the pedal bone of the hoof. Injury to the laminae causes bleeding between the sole and the pedal bone. This can form a bruise or haematoma, which is a blister, filled with blood, causing pain and lameness.
Unlike bruised soles in which the lameness is evident almost immediately, corns can also develop over a long period of time.
What causes Corns?
Corns can be caused by a number of things that traumatise the seat of corn. Most commonly corns are due to either a too narrow or too tight a shoe, which causes injury to the seat of corn. Stones can become trapped between the shoe and the seat of corn or the shoes can be left on too long and begin to dig in causing damage. Poor conformation such as low heels means that excessive weight is put on the heels and may traumatise the seat of corn.
What are the signs of Corns?
Lameness is the most obvious signs of corns. The severity of the lameness depends on how much damage has occurred. This lameness becomes more apparent if the horse is ridden on hard ground, in circles or lunged. Sometimes both front legs may be affected which can be difficult to detect. Pain can usually be elicited by applying pressure over the affected seat of corn.
How can I prevent Corns?
Regular attention from a competent farrier will ensure that your horses’ feet are in optimal condition. Specific supplements are also available which can aid in hoof health, as well as protective hoof pads. Advice on both of these products can be obtained from your veterinary surgeon.