Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Long or Overgrown Hooves

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

  • Provided there is no lameness and there is an explanation for the appearance.

In their natural state, horses wear their hoof capsules down while roaming long distances. Hooves become overgrown when a horse is removed from this state, i.e. domesticated horses that are confined in a stall or small area or when the hoof is covered with a shoe. In this instance, routine trimming becomes necessary. Neglected horses often have very long or overgrown hooves.

If your horse has long or overgrown hooves, carefully evaluate them and assess them for lameness. Over what period has the hoof grown to this point? What is the trimming history? Are the growth rings relatively even? Has the toe grown along with the heel, or is heel or toe growing faster? Is there change to the appearance of the front of the hoof wall?


Share your findings and concerns with your farrier, who can advise you on the best approach to trimming overgrown hooves. However, if there are other abnormalities or lameness, share your findings and concerns with your vet.


Your vet will assess the hooves and may recommend a lameness exam. However, keep in mind that it can be very hard to assess lameness in horses with severely overgrown hooves. In severe cases, trimming may be required before a proper lameness exam can be conducted.

Generally, overgrown hooves should be trimmed gradually, in stages. In the case of suspected laminitis or other hoof disorders, radiographs can be very helpful.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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