Hoof Cracks: Causes and Repair

Even though most cracks are minor, they are still worth the attention of your farrier and sometimes your vet.
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Your horse’s feet are some of the most important structures contributing to his performance ability, and most people do what they can to keep them healthy. Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong with your horse that can cause hoof cracks to form. Maybe he pulled a shoe in the pasture or grabbed his heel during a competition. Perhaps conditions have been muddy or icy. Sometimes you don’t know what happened. Still, there it is: A crack. What can be done about it?

Most cracks are superficial and grow out without consequence. However, there are instances where the crack is more severe, or what appears to be superficial becomes more serious. Then you could be looking at lameness, infection, and a much longer recovery time.

The Normal Hoof

The hoof is composed of a number of regions, including the wall, sole, frog, and the white line. The hoof wall bears most of the horse’s weight and is most vulnerable to wear and trauma. Directly inside the hoof wall is leaf-like epidermal that interlocks with the inner dermal laminae, anchoring the hoof to the coffin bone. This allows the hoof wall to grow down while still being attached to the third phalanx (coffin bone) inside the hoof

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Written by:

Stephanie Ruff received a MS in animal science from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. She has worked in various aspects of the horse industry, including Thoroughbred and Arabian racing, for nearly 20 years. More information about her work can be found at www.theridingwriter.com. She has also published the illustrated children’s story Goats With Coats.

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