Tackling Hoof Cracks

A half-dozen American Farriers Journal Editorial Advisory Board members share their many years of experience in dealing with hoof cracks

Hoof cracks can occur anywhere on the hoof wall and are caused by improper mechanics, environmental extremes or pathology concerns that lead to hoof deformities that result in failure. Named for where they appear on the hoof wall, they include quarter cracks, heel cracks, bar cracks and toe cracks.

Randy Luikart says some cracks are chronic in nature while others end up being short-lived. The farrier from Ashland, Ohio, finds a significant difference between cracks that start at the bottom and work their way up the hoof compared with other cracks that start and work their way down from the top of the hoof. 

Some cracks actually occur only in the stratum externum of the hoof wall, while other cracks sometimes tend to go completely through the wall and involve live tissue.

Know Crack Causes

Amy Rucker treats most hoof cracks without using laces or stabilization of the hoof capsule by concentrating on the forces that led to the crack. The Columbia, Mo., equine veterinarian evaluates the conformation of the horse (angular limb deformities, rotational limb deformities, club or long/low heel will have quarter crack in the low foot, not the club), the environment, nutrition, how the horse is used, the timetable for work or competition, breakover and owner compliance.

She wants to determine where the load is at landing and where the load is during the weight-bearing phase. Radiographs help her evaluate the shape of the P3, P2 and P1, joint spaces, digital breakover, sole depth, palmar angle and…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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