How to Treat Hoof Crack

From afar your horse’s hooves look pristine. But you notice there’s a dark fissure creeping from the ground up the hoof wall in his left fore. How did your horse develop a crack in one of his seemingly impenetrable feet, and what can you do to halt its advance?Hoof cracks develop for many reasons. Some are superficial, some are serious, and either can be permanent. Inspecting and picking your horse’s hooves daily, along with keeping your horse on a regular trimming/shoeing schedule, can help prevent hoof cracks from appearing in the first place. Environmental, genetic, nutritional, and conformational factors also play an important role in hoof health and strength. There are many types of hoof imperfections that involve chipping, tearing, and cracking of the hoof wall. Here we’ll describe how to identify and handle common hoof cracks.


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    Watch the horse walk and trot to determine footfall. They will consider your horse’s conformation and what you are asking him to do as an athlete, along with scrutinizing the footing that you’re working him on--is it hard or uneven? Recognize that you might need to institute environmental changes--such as eliminating extremely wet, dry, or filthy turnout or bedding conditions—before your vet and farrier can remedy the hoof cracks.
    • Knowing what type of feed and supplements the horse receives will also help them determine if your horse is on the correct diet to support his hooves (several studies have found that biotin supplementation, for instance, can improve hoof quality). In short, consider all of your horse’s management and lifestyle factors to help determine the cause and, thus, prevent recurrence.
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    Lace--clean and reset (cut away parts of the hoof wall) the crack and then drilling very small holes on each side of it. They run stainless steel wire through the holes, connecting the wires at each end and tightening them by twisting the ends together.
    • Another method of repairing hoof cracks involves wire and very small screws. The practitioner places screws into the hoof wall on either side of the crack. He or she weaves the wire back and forth around the protruding screw heads.
    • Many times the treating veterinarian or farrier applies special hoof-patching glue over the screws so they do not work their way out of the hoof wall. Veterinarians and farriers commonly use such polymer and acrylic patching materials or “glue” to stabilize and repair hoof cracks. They some of these materials with fiberglass to create stronger patches over or around the hoof cracks.
    • Keep in mind that a crack that has been bleeding, infected, or filled with bacteria or fungi should never be covered with any type of repair material unless the veterinarian or farrier adds a drain for medicating the area. Covering an infected crack will most likely make matters worse, creating a breeding ground for the offending bacteria or fungi.
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    Repair and stabilize the hoof crack. Your farrier and veterinarian might have particular methods they prefer to use for different types of cracks. Balancing the horse’s hooves so his weight is more evenly distributed around the limb’s center of gravity is a major factor in repairing the crack(s). In some cases trimming the foot is all that’s needed to remove the crack or to get the horse on the road to recovery. More severe cracks might require corrective shoeing and stabilization techniques, such as adding clips on the shoe to either side of the crack and placing implants across the crack.
    • It is very important that you seek a farrier and veterinarian who are trained in diagnosing and repairing hoof cracks. Many farriers are qualified--through experience as well as continuing education opportunities offered by state and national associations -- to repair hoof cracks, with some specializing only in hoof crack repair. If you suspect your horse is lame because of a hoof crack or if there is infection or bleeding in the crack area, call a veterinarian to meet with you and your farrier.


  • Be sure to be gentle to your horse. You don't want to hurt it even more.


  • Be careful to not surprise your horse and not walk around back of it. This leads to painful kicks.

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Categories: Horse Care