Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Hoof Wall Crack, Toe or Quarter, Vertical, No Lameness or Blood at Coronet

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

    Hoof cracks are relatively common. Long toe/low heel conformation and various hoof imbalances cause shearing forces that can crack the wall. The development of hoof cracks relates to these forces, as well as a horse’s genetic hoof quality, nutrition, environment and the care that the hoof has received.

    Tiny partial thickness vertical cracks are more likely associated with poor quality hoof wall and usually do not cause a problem for the horse. Hoof cracks and poor quality hoof wall also develop if there is scarring of the coronet band from an old wound or injury.

    Hoof cracks can also allow bacteria into the live tissues of the foot and cause abscesses, which can cause the sudden onset of severe lameness.


    Assess lameness at the walk and trot. Feel for heat and digital pulse in the foot. You may simply monitor a hoof crack if it is not bleeding or growing larger, and there is no heat or digital pulse in the foot, your horse is not lame, and there seem to be no other problems. Minor or partial cracks may exist within the hoof wall without causing any health or performance related problem.

    However, it is always best to call your farrier or vet to discuss this development, and follow their recommendations for general management, including shoeing or trimming suggestions to treat or prevent this problem.


    In assessing a hoof crack, your vet determines what if any treatment is needed. A large part of that decision will be determined by the specifics of the crack, the presence or absence of lameness, and whether a horse must continue to perform or can rest. Your vet may also help guide you in management and nutrition, and choosing a good quality hoof supplement.

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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