Q: How can I prevent hoof cracks?
A: There are several different types of hoof crack. Sand cracks are due to hoof imbalance or trauma to the coronary band. These cracks originate at the top of the hoof wall and travel downwards. Horses experience pain with these cracks as the crack opens and closes as the hoof weight bears.
Grass cracks on the other hand originate at the bottom of the hoof and travel upwards from there. Grass cracks are generally considered less severe than sand cracks, but can cause lameness should the crack travel into the interior hoof towards the sensitive structures.
In terms of preventing cracks:
- Regular trimming or shoeing is vital in the prevention of cracks as it stops the wall from growing long and becoming weak and deformed. Regular trimming and shoeing is also vital for managing hoof wall flares as if these are left too long, they can lead to cracking.
- Dry and hard hooves are more prone to cracks than moisturised ones, so in drier weather it can be a good idea to apply hoof moisturiser to help the hoof to retain its moisture, and keep the hoof horn hydrated and supple.
- If your horse is prone to cracks it is worth avoiding rocky and stony ground, as this can result in cracks forming. However, if your horse has no alternative to moving over this terrain, a pair of hoof-boots could help the issue.
- Some farriers may also recommend shoes in horses prone to cracks, as supportive shoeing can help prevent cracks from forming in the first place; prevent them from getting worse once they are present; and can limit the ability of the crack to open and close and therefore cause pain during weight-bearing.