Hoof wall cracks
Most hoof cracks are present because the hoof wall isn’t connected to the coffin bone and will grow out with a well-connected wall, a balanced trim, and a mustang roll, so we’ll concentrate on the stubborn ones. Similar to flares and thrush, wall cracks will be stubborn if the diet isn’t right. Horse’s need to grow in a well-connected wall to grow out wall cracks and this also requires a good diet. The first thing to receive nutrients are the vital organs and the skin and hoof receive what remains, so the hooves and skin are the windows to a horse's health. The trimming schedule needs to be more frequent with flares and cracks otherwise if you let the hoof wall grow a small amount the forces will cause separation and more cracking. Also, the horse must have heel first impact not only to develop the back of the foot but to allow the wall to grow in connected. A stubborn crack will most likely have a fungal infection and an anti-fungal soaking will usually do the trick. Coronet or lamina damage can cause a crack and these are usually a permanent weakness also an open invitation to a fungal infection. These cracks require the same treatment, but then after they have grown out require weekly or fortnightly soaks. Quarter cracks are common in shod horses and not in barefoot horses. This is because the hoof expands all the way to the front of the hoof, so if the front half is held rigid by a horseshoe using three nails each side and the back tries to expand then stress will be applied at the quarters. If a fourth nail is used in the shoe this will stop most if not all the expansion in the back of the hoof and the crack will appear further back towards the heel. Cracks at the center of the toe are usually caused by horses having a little notch at the toe where bacteria can infiltrate. White line infiltration appears as a black hole at the bottom of a crack which you’ll find with center toe cracks. Some stubborn cracks are also caused by imbalances, rider, equipment i.e. saddle, old injuries, poor trim and they directly influence the footfall of the horse. With these type of cracks like anything else, you have to address the cause. Sometimes cracks maybe be caused by habitual problems such as pawing and these can be difficult to diagnose and fix.
In conclusion, we need to have good barefoot trim, facilitate heel first landing to grow in a well-connected hoof and this will grow out 90% of cracks. Horses with more stubborn cracks will need diet changes and a soaking program. The barefooted horse with the correct diet, a good environment, and natural hoof care will grow out hoof cracks, flares, etc without many issues.
© Copyright 2015 Chris Simpson