As a horse is constantly on their feet, developing hoof cracks at some point in their life is inevitable. Many of these will heal themselves over time with the right nutrition and hoof care.
Here at British Pet Insurance we know there are lots of different types of hoof cracks; and some need a little more attention than others. In this article will take you through what you need to know about hoof cracks, the warning signs and hot to treat and prevent them.
Understanding why hooves crack can lead to a much quicker recovery for the horse and save you time, money and overall frustration. One of the main causes for cracks is due to a nutritional deficiency – which is quite easily resolved with the right nutrition and a good farrier.
Another cause relates to the hoof getting too much moisture over extended periods of time. A little bit of moisture for the hoof is fine. However, if a horse is exposed to extremely wet or cold conditions and then to dry and hard ground, the material around the hoof can expand and weaken. Along with this, riding your horse on hard or rocky surfaces can lead to cracking or chipping on the hoof.
Hoof cracks can happen on all hooves, with the shape and positioning of the crack leading to certain causes. A nutritional deficiency in the horse may lead to horizontal cracks or lines on all four of the hooves, whereas if only one hoof is affected, then this can be ruled out as a cause. When only the front hooves are affected, concussion cracks from hard surfaces may be the cause or it could be a sign of contracted heels.
Cracks that start at the coronary band and extend downward can be either a sand crack or quarter crack. These are usually due to poor trimming of the hooves that leave them uneven and therefore don’t load the weight evenly across the four hoofs.
If you notice the hoof walls are chipping instead of cracking, this may be due to frequent travel over rough surfaces such as rock, gravel, or solidified mud.
Having a good farrier that knows your horse as well as creating a nutritional diet for your horse will be the foundations you need to ensure there is less chance of cracking in the hooves.
If your horse is constantly walking over rough surfaces that are quite harsh on their hoof, you may want to consider shoes or hoof boots for some added protection.
In all cases, it is best to act as soon as you notice a problem to reduce the chance of the crack getting worse and more painful for the horse. If the cracking continues, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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