Sport Horse Medicine.com
focus: Equine Podiatry
Sponsored by Richard Mansmann, VMD, PhD of
Equine Podiatry & Rehabilitation
Mobile Practice of North Carolina
Managing Cracks

Any hoof wall crack needs evaluation of foot balance, non-hemorrhaging horn removal that is creating pressure, supportive shoeing and re-check until there is no longer any crack showing at the growing coronet.

Causes of cracks in horses:

Trauma to the coronet (usually unilateral)

  • Too much exposure to wet pasture and/or mud
  • Too much exposure to fescue pasture
  • Irregular shoeing or trimming intervals
  • Allowing flaring of the toes and walls to occur

Hoof Management
  • Owners should manage the hoof environment before any hoof or shoeing alterations. If hoof management doesn't change, hoof treatments can not be successful.
  • The horse should be maintained in as dry an environment as possible. No turnout during wet times. Off dew wet pasture. Consider a clean pine shavings stall as primary "home", turnout in late afternoon and in about 10PM and then could turnout about 8AM for a few hours. Fescue pasture maybe a hindrance to decent hoof health.
  • A packed sand, small paddock can be a turnout area for such a horse in wet times.
  • Make sure hay  is fed on a platform that can be swept to avoid sand colic.
  • Encourage daily exercise whether ground or ridden exercising to help maintain health.
  • Keep weight reasonable with a body score no greater than 6.
Shoeing Treament
  • Consider as much heel support as the farrier dares.
  • Consider adding frog support.
  • Consider at least setting the shoe back to a straight line drawn from the top 1/3 of hoof  to the baring surface (see photo below).
  • Consider setting break-over back from that point.

Hoof Treatment
  • Without causing any blood, relieve the firm horn from both sides of the cracks in a V-shape. The long point of V is about 3/8 to 1/2" on either side of the crack along the coronet              (see photo above, right).
  •      Goal: To shave off horn to a point just below the crack line and have no crack at the coronet. It   may take 2 or 3 "shavings", 1 to 2 weeks apart to accomplish. If you do get a bead of blood or          more, wrap for one day with aqueous based antibiotic cream.
  • Re-check site each shoeing to pare away any abnormal hard horn.
  • Keep lanolin based hoof ointment rubbed into coronet band to keep coronet soft.
  • No caustic treatments!! That only makes a heavier scar.