Quarter Cracks: Causes, Prevention & Treatment

California farrier shares how he deals with this type of damage, but says proper shoeing can prevent most of them

Most quarter cracks are caused by one thing: Improper shoeing.

Feet with cracks always present with low or underrun heels, combined with too short and too narrow a shoe. Often, the majority of the outer wall has also been rasped away in order to make the shoe fit. In most cases, these feet have side clips on the front shoes. This scenario prevents the foot from performing one of its primary functions — energy dissipation. The foot is basically exploding from internal pressure.

Once a crack is allowed to breach the coronet band, several complications occur. The horse will be in pain and unable to work. There is risk of secondary infection of the hoof capsule. 

As the crack heals, scar tissue forms at the coronary band, producing a permanent abnormal pathology. As the hoof grows out, the lamiae will not knit together normally, creating a “fault” in the hoof capsule, dramatically increasing the likelihood of future problems.

Innovations Or Hindrance?

The most basic function that any horseshoe performs is holding a horse off the ground. The larger and heavier the horse, the larger, heavier and wider the shoe needs to be. Shoes originated with the intention of enhancing the performance of the horse and the durability of the hoof. Unfortunately, many of today’s “innovations” in horseshoes are designed to be easier to use, lighter and to have more “stay-on” ability.


INNOVATOR. California farrier Brian Gnegy, shown working on a hospital plate, has found an innovative way to deal with…

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