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


Hoof Wall Crack, Parallel to Ground, Horizontal, No Lameness


Horizontal hoof cracks (parallel to the ground) are caused by injuries that interrupt hoof wall growth at the coronet, the hairline of the hoof where the hoof wall is generated. Whatever the injury, it happened in the past. The lower the crack on the hoof wall, the older the injury that caused it. The crack grows down about 1 cm per month as the hoof wall grows out. Ultimately, the crack reaches the ground surface of the hoof and wears off or is trimmed off. So in most cases, this is not considered a long-term unsoundness.

Many things can cause this interruption that turns into a crack, including sole abscesses opening at the coronet, pressure from a boot, or other trauma to the area. Horizontal hoof wall cracks usually are not associated with lameness.

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your role


What To Do

Keep hoof cracks cleaned out, and hooves picked out. Try to maintain good stall or enclosure hygiene. Monitor for lameness, heat in hoof and digital pulse. Any or all of these could indicate an infection developing under the crack.


Your farrier may need to negotiate around the crack in horse shoe nail placement. As a crack grows out toward the ground surface, it may cause the hoof wall to be weak and not hold a nail. Occasionally, a very large crack can destabilize the hoof and requires special shoeing techniques for support as it grows out.

Occasionally, horses develop infections under the hoof wall associated with one of these cracks. That would appear as sudden lameness and could necessitate a vet visit.

your vet's role

Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • How far down the hoof wall is the crack?
  • Is there a digital pulse in this foot that is greater than in the others?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP