Freedom July 05 to Jan. '08
Notice the increased concavity?
You can see the hair still
grows out of the wall
(coronet injury) but the
crack itself has closed
Left is a thermo graphic image
of a horse with one right front
shoe on. Shoeing decreases
blood flow and vascular return
as well as the cooling
capacity. Is it necessary to
shoe a hoof to fix a crack? We
say "no it's not!" Why add
insult to injury when proven
healing can occur naturally?
Hoof wall cracks and their treatments vary from the farrier to the barefoot world. Many believe
the hoof wall needs to be shod or casted to "hold a crack together" but fail to understand why
the wall has cracked in the first place. I too once believed all cracks needed to be shod. Then
I convinced my mom to pull the shoes on her 10 year old paint that had a bad coronet injury.
This hoof had to be stitched with a nail to keep the horn from falling apart for years. Both front
hooves had dropped soles and the flaring was out of control, so she agreed. I explained how
the shoe "cuts off" circulation to the hoof and impedes the natural hoof mechanism. This was
hard for her to understand as it may be for most of you, so I've found this picture to give you
an idea of what happens to the circulation under thermo graphic imaging.
So here was my first test...and three years later the hoof has risen into the capsule at a higher angle with a
strong lamellar connection and a "crack" that has filled in completely. These cracks often remain weaker at
the bottom of the wall (where it expands fully at ground level) but can be maintained with proper trimming.
I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...
So what if you have a crack and it's not from an injury? Then you have to determine the cause, was it unbalanced trimming?
Dry hoof walls? Moist hoof walls? Excessive use on extremely hard surfaces? Genetics? Here I've taken a quote from
THE LAME HORSE James Rooney DVM on hoof cracks. " One of the essential features and requirements of the horn of
the wall, sole, frog, is that it be elastic, able to bend and regain its original shape as the load goes on and off the hoof. If, for
whatever reason, this elasticity is decreased or lost, the wall will tend to crack and split. The crack naturally follows the pre
existing anatomical structure of horn tubules, and failure occurring in the interstitial horn which hods the tubules together. ......
Of the factors we have to deal with, however, moisture is foremost. A natural sponge is an analogy. When moistened with
water, the sponge readily bends and compresses when squeezed and pops back into its original shape when released. The
dry sponge, on the other hand, breaks and crumbles when force is applied. When moist, the sponge is elastic; when dry it is
inelastic. .... We have already discussed the evil of rasping away the outer layer of the hoof wall for cosmetic purposes. That
causes water loss-an excellent way to predispose to cracks."
So lets sum that up...balance the hoof, don't rasp the entire hoof wall in dry weather and use your water tub as a "mud area"
to moisten hooves in the dry season. I prefer to sand the entire hoof but only rasp the flares as needed. The wet season is
another issue. Here I will rasp and sand accordingly to remove excess moisture even if the hoof has grown very little as it may
do in the winter. Maintaining good horn quality starts here at the trim, so prevention is the best course of action if at all
possible. Consider using a biotin supplement if needed, such as rosehips in their natural form. Remove the molasses and feed
naturally. Be careful if you choose a hoof supplement from any store or catalogue, many of these are comprised mostly of
"filler" and some have potentially harmful ingredients of your horse has allergies or laminitis. Less is more...what supplements
do you suppose the Great basin mustangs were receiving when they live on sand and lava rocks? Do you still think your
horse NEEDS a ton of supplements in order to grow healthy hooves?
What if you crack has been caused by an injury and that resulted in the loss of part of the hoof itself? Do you think the
horse should be put down just because it can never again be shod? If so, let me share this remarkable picture of a horse who
severed the entire lateral (outer) bulb off when his hoof was caught in an old buried pipe in the field. I arrived on Christmas
eve to trim this gelding and this is what I found...his owner was already in the ER dealing with another terrible accident...
There are also cracks that come from imbalanced hooves, too many sugars in the diet, and fungal infections that
typically invade the toe region. If you have white line, the necrotic tissue should be debrided and packed at least once
a week. I have recently found that silver sulfadiazine (SSD) does a fabulous job of healing infected epidermal tissues.
This must be obtained from your vet as a prescription is required, so make sure you talk this over with both you hoof
care practitioner as well as your vet before beginning any treatments. WLD can be re-occurring throughout the horses
lifetime. For photos of my mare healing WLD naturally please see ABOUT ME. Her hoof repaired in only four months
with Clean Trax soaks, bee propolis and goldenseal. If treated immediately WLD will heal quickly, but in my
experience, if the condition has persisted for more than two years expect weekly treatments to become part of your
routine for months. Novalson solution (Chlorhexadine antiseptic) diluted 1:4 is my cleanser of choice for soaking WLD
This is a terrible injury
severing through the
coronary band and slicing
off the heel...
In time the hoof has
adapted and produced
more frog in the area of
the missing heel...soundly
Above and to the left-Luke had a terrible
crack that was repairing with corrective
shoeing. He had a severe dropped sole and
asymmetrical hooves. The shoes were pulled
nine months before the above shots were
taken and steps were taken to increase his
angle without wedge pads or boots. This type
of healing typically takes several hoof cycles.
For more good info on hoof cracks, read this scientific study