“Grooving” Away Hoof Cracks

An electrically-heated iron makes it easy to burn grooves into the hoof wall to halt the progression of cracks

One of the things I’ve always feared is dealing with hoof cracks,
specifically toe cracks. Conventional crack treatment usually requires frequent monitoring and additional follow-up repairs.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, I relied on screws and wire to repair primarily medial quarter cracks that occurred in Thoroughbred racehorses. But if the horse happened to step on the repaired area, it normally had to be redone.

Different Repair Options

After abandoning the use of screws and wire, I started using fiberglass and Equilox, which didn’t create the bulge in the hoof that lacing with screws and wire did. While fiberglass resulted in a low-profile repair area on the hoof, it had a tendency to crack after several months, leading to the need to remove the material and perform another complete repair.

Farrier Takeaways

  • Burning horizontal grooves helps California farrier Bob Shirley arrest the progression of hoof cracks.
  • Using Equilox adhesive provides horizontal support similar to lacing your shoes provides foot support.
  • Using an electrically-heated iron, Shirley burns the depth of the blade.

As many shoers have done, I’ve burned horizontal grooves perpendicular to the crack with a forge-heated iron. However, the results for me were usually limited and disappointing. The forge-heated iron cooled very quickly, making it difficult to burn deep enough into the hoof wall.

I’ve long felt that if there were a way to provide horizontal strength to the crack such as a staple might provide, then I might be able to eliminate the crack progression. I’ve tried…

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Bob shirley

Bob Shirley

Bob Shirley of Fallbrook, Calif., has shod horses for 46 years. He shoes competitive hunter, jumper and dressage horses, along with lesson horses.

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