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


Change in Appearance of Coronet Band


The coronary band is the special cell structure at the top of the hoof that generates the hoof wall. The wall, attached to the deeper parts of the hoof via the laminae, grows downward over time toward the ground while staying firmly attached to the underlying structures via the laminae.

The quality of the coronet determines the quality of the hoof wall. This is why you should take problems affecting the coronet seriously.

A normal healthy coronet band is smooth, dry and cool, with the hair laying flat and downward over it. The hoof that grows from it is smooth and regular. An unhealthy coronet today causes an unhealthy hoof wall for months to come.

The state of the coronet is reflective of body-wide health and nutrition. Like many specialized, sensitive and metabolically active tissues in the body, the coronet can be a sensitive indicator of a variety of disease states.

Certain diseases affect the coronet tissue directly, such as the auto-immune disease Pemphigus Foliaceus, and viral diseases such as Vesicular Stomatitis. Toxins and nutritional deficiencies and excesses can also cause changes in the appearance of the coronary band. Horses suffering from malnutrition may have scaly, rough or inflamed coronets.

The term "coronitis" refers to a variety of changes in the appearance of the coronary band. It is not a diagnosis; technically "coronitis" just means inflammation of the coronary band.

Injuries to the coronet band are fairly common, and beyond laceration, can cause reddening, bruising, hair loss and swelling. Interference may cause injury to the coronet.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
    • If lameness is noticeable at the walk.
    • If the area seems painful to the touch.
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If you consider this a chronic and relatively mild problem that is not changing rapidly.
    • If you do not notice any lameness or stiffness.
    • If the area does not seem to be painful.
    • If the area does not seem to be painful.
You also might be observing
Very Common
Less Common
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your role


What To Do

If you notice any abnormality of the coronary band, discuss it with your vet. It is important to identify the underlying cause. Compare the appearance of the affected coronet band to the other feet. Do you notice changes in all the feet or just one? Assess the horse for lameness and feel the hoof for heat or a digital pulse. Assess for lameness at the walk.

Take a photo of the condition and send it to your vet for discussion.

What Not To Do

Changes in the appearance of the coronet band can be caused by a variety of underlying conditions that must be identified and treated. Do not assume that the problem is simple and easily treated with topical medications.

your vet's role

Your vet evaluates the appearance of the problem to gain clues to the underlying cause. They consider whether the problem exists on all the limbs or just one. They perform a complete physical exam and consider the horse's general health as it relates to the appearance of the coronet band(s).

In some cases, additional laboratory work like viral titers and vitamin and mineral levels may be helpful.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Have you noticed that the horse is stiff or sore?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Is one foot or multiple feet affected?
  • Is there digital pulse or heat in foot or feet?
  • Do you notice any lameness?
  • How severe do you think the lameness is?
  • Have you tried any treatments?
  • Have you changed your horse's feed or management lately?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • What treatments have you tried and how did they work?

Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP