Holly Kuchera

Gaining Advantage

Farriers get an edge from knowing how quarter cracks form—beware hoof wall stress and poor conformation

Talking about quarter cracks, equine veterinarian and farrier Stephen O’Grady says, “There are a lot of different causes. Some we don’t fully understand. But it seems that everywhere you go, you can always learn from somebody who has an experience you don’t.”

As a prominent hoof-care pro who has seen his share of quarter cracks and who appreciates the things he has learned from others, O’Grady, owner of Northern Virginia Equine in Marshall, Va., offers the following advice on the subject:

  • A successful quarter crack repair depends on recognizing the cause and eliminating it.
  • Immobilize the defect to minimize movement and eliminate pain.
  • Farriery is the most important part of healing and avoiding quarter cracks.

“If you know why something happens, it’s easier to repair,” O’Grady says. “I learned from (Hall of Fame farrier) Eddie Watson a long time ago that in a lot of cases you can affect the cause of the crack and start to heal it without ever touching the crack itself.

“So, if you have a horse that doesn’t have to jump or run tomorrow, why not just go ahead and shoe him? If the horse doesn’t have to perform, I would recommend shoeing him to change the landing impact forces on the affected side. Change the forces on the foot and 90 percent of the cracks will heal and start to grow down,” he says.

Root Causes

Downward growth, or actually the lack of it, is the true nature of quarter cracks, O’Grady says. “The…

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