Understanding And Managing Quarter Cracks

California farriers offer their advice to achieve positive outcomes

Tim Shannon has some succinct advice for farriers who deal with quarter cracks.

“I’d suggest whoever wants to get into it to find somebody who knows a lot about [handling quarter cracks] to walk you through it,” advises the San Moreno, Calif., farrier. “There is a lot to crack repair.”

Shannon points out that a farrier needs to understand not only the materials and techniques involved in repairing the crack, but also the horse’s conformation, the ground force reactions involved and the loads placed on the foot.

The name sounds fairly benign, and quarter cracks may even look minor, but as mentioned in the classic veterinary text, Stashak and Adam’s Lameness In Horses, “In most instances, the underlying wall damage is considerably more extensive than that noted from the exterior.”

Thorough Assessment

As hinted in Shannon’s advice, quarter cracks can be far more than a minor nuisance. Stashak and Adam’s describes hoof wall cracks as a “focal wall failure.” Note the word “failure.” Quarter cracks can move into the sensitive laminae, resulting in instability and infection.

Both Shannon and Bob Smith, owner of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, emphasize the importance of beginning with a thorough assessment.

Farrier Takeaways

Before trying to manage a crack, the cause first must be understood..

Underrun heels that are shod short often develop quarter cracks because they don’t have enough support.

The bars should be left at least the same height as the wall in order to reduce the instances of quarter cracks.


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Christy Corp-Minamiji DMV

Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinary practitioner. She lives in Northern California.

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