What is Cracked Hoof?
Although a horse hoof looks like a tough structure, a horse’s hooves are very sensitive. A horse’s hooves may become cracked – and leave the hoof vulnerable to further damage. While some cracks are superficial, others can rapidly worsen – damaging sensitive hoof structures beneath the hardened outer covering of the hoof.
What Causes Cracked Hoof?
Causes of cracked hooves include:
- Disturbances in hoof growth resulting from coronet injuries (cracks that start at the top of the foot)
- Dry or thin hoof walls or improper trimming (cracks that start at the bottom of the foot)
- Hoof abscess (break out through the coronet band at the top of the hoof)
Note: The seriousness of a crack depends on how deep it goes and where it is located. A crack that bleeds after the horse has exercised, usually indicated infection, and immediate treatment is required.
Help for Cracked Hoof
If you notice a crack or split in your horse’s hoof, it is important to call your Farrier immediately. Remember to describe the crack location and size. It may need immediate attention or it may be able to wait until the next regular shoeing date. Serious cracks may require corrective and repairing shoeing.
There are many herbal and homeopathic remedies that can help to nourish the hoof from the inside out. Linseed Oil and Wintergreen Oil are rich sources of the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, which is a biologic precursor to omega-3 fatty acids.
These oils contain soothing properties, especially when applied as a topical warming massage. Herbs such as Horsetail and Comfrey can aid healing and support the health of the skin. Marigold, Lavender and St John’s Wort have been shown to promote the repair of damaged tissues, while Arnica has been extensively researched for healing properties.
More Information on Cracked Hoof
Tips related to horse hoof care
- Schedule regular Farrier visits according to your horse's individual needs (six to eight weeks is the average, but discuss customized schedules).
- Each time you clean your horse's hooves, gently clear the crevice of the frog, and scrape any remaining bits of matter off the sole, with the tip of the pick. (You want to be able to see the sole's entire surface, so finish the job with a stiff brush).
- Many horses benefit from a balanced natural hoof supplement. Speak to your vet about a supplement that can be added to feed to promote healthy hooves.
Note: Never remove an object imbedded in the hoof. Put your horse in his stall (protect the punctured foot, and help the foreign object stay put, with wrapping and duct tape, or with a slip-on medication boot), and call your veterinarian right away.