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


Hoof Wall Crack, Toe or Quarter, Vertical, with Lameness or Blood at Coronet


Hoof wall cracks are relatively common. Long toe/low heel conformation and hoof imbalance cause shearing forces at the toe that crack the wall. Tiny partial thickness vertical cracks are more likely associated with poor quality hoof wall and usually do not cause a problem.

Hoof cracks and poor quality hoof wall will also develop if there is scarring of the coronet band from an old wound or injury. Sometimes, hoof cracks can become infected, causing severe lameness.

  • Code Red

    Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.
    • If severe and obvious lameness is visible at the walk.
  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
    • If there is mild lameness accompanying this sign.
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

your role


What To Do

Immediately stall rest any horse that has a painful or bleeding hoof crack and call your vet. If the horse is severely lame, ask your vet about giving the horse medication to lessen the pain until they arrive. A light bandage may help prevent debris getting into the wound until your vet arrives.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to cover, bridge or seal hoof cracks without the supervision of an experienced farrier or vet.

your vet's role


Your vet will evaluate your horse and assess the crack. If there is infection in the crack, treatment of that is necessary. Your vet may also recommend a shoeing or trimming prescription, and a consult with your farrier.

Your vet may additionally suggest nutritional changes, supplementation and possibly topical hoof dressings. Topicals and supplements may play a role in the pliability and quality of hoof. However, the most important aspect of treatment is addressing the mechanics of the foot, with proper trimming and shoeing to reduce the shearing forces that tend to cause these cracks.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Has anything changed in the horse's hoof management?
  • How lame is the horse?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's exercise and performance history leading up to this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP