What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Frog Falling or Peeling Off


You notice that your horse's frog seems to be peeling or hanging off. Is this normal? In most cases, the frog sheds several times a year. Excess frog is typically removed by your farrier when they trim the hoof, so you may not notice this normal cycle.

Importantly, however, peeling of the frog can also occur along with conditions that favor the development of thrush, such as lack of exercise, lameness, chronically wet environment, and poor hoof care. The organisms that cause thrush dissect under the external layer of frog and cause it to peel off.

Hanging or loose tissue on the ground surface of the hoof is extraneous, and likely to trap matter and moisture.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you notice lameness or other problems associated with this sign.
    • If digital pulse is obvious in the limbs.
  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If you do not notice digital pulse or heat in the feet.
    • If you do not notice lameness.

your role


What To Do

Keep your horse's feet picked routinely. If there is a loose piece of frog, you can peel this back gently and then cut it off with a hoof knife or nipper. In most cases, horses with peeling frogs are not lame, although the tissue underneath may be tender until it dries and hardens. When your farrier visits, let them know that you removed a piece of peeling frog.

Feel for digital pulse and heat in the hoof, and assess the horse for lameness. Consider the horse's overall health, coat and hoof walls. Are they satisfactory?

Talk to your vet about this issue, particularly if it is accompanied by lameness. Changes in hoof care, feeding, or management may help lessen or resolve this problem.

What Not To Do

Do not to pull or rip the frog off because this can pull off well-attached frog too, exposing the sensitive tissues underneath, which may result in pain and sensitivity.

your vet's role

If your vet notices a loose or peeling piece of frog, they will likely cut it off. Your vet also considers whether this is a clue to another underlying condition or problem.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you notice digital pulse or heat in the foot?
  • What is the status of your horse's hoof care and shoeing?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP