Hoof Cracks and Lameness

Hoof Cracks and Lameness

Most hoof cracks are superficial and do not cause much pain.

Photo: Erica Larson, News Editor

Q. Can a horse go lame because of extreme hoof cracks and not being trimmed regularly? If so, is there anything you can do to reverse hoof cracks?

Via email

A. While most hoof cracks are superficial and do not cause much pain, horses can become lame due to deep hoof cracks that reach the sensitive inner structures of the foot. Routine regular hoof care (trimming and shoeing) is strongly recommended for every horse to prevent them from developing cracks and lameness.

Hoof cracks can be caused by long, untrimmed, and/or unbalanced feet creating hoof wall flares and separation of the hoof wall from the white line. Some other causes are environmental factors such as an environment that shifts from wet to dry. A wet environment allows moisture, mud, dirt, and debris to migrate through the hoof wall separations. When the hoof environment dries, the debris becomes trapped inside the hoof capsule, allowing anaerobic (not requiring oxygen) bacteria to take over.

Poor hoof wall quality due to nutritional deficiencies can also play a role in hoof cracks. Therefore, besides routine regular hoof care, a balanced diet and hoof supplements can help your horse's hoof quality. In my experience, certain hoof dressings applied over the coronary band (I use Contender by Kinetic) will stimulate a healthy hoof growth.

About the Author

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF

Raul Bras, DVM, CJF, is a podiatrist and shareholder at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, where he sees a variety of foot and lameness-related cases. He graduated from Cornell University's farrier school in 2007 and became a certified farrier in 2009 and a certified journeyman farrier in 2010.

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