Hoof Injuries Questions

Note: Please be aware that over time it is possible some of the links on this page may become invalid. A search of the Internet may help you locate the information you are seeking. Thank you.

Return to Questions and Answers

Trimming

Lameness

Hoof Injuries

Horseshoes

Horse Shoeing

Hoof Angles

Record-keeping

Q: My TB has one front hoof that grows slightly concave.  Just started doing this 2 trims ago. What does this indicate?  He has had some minor laminitis in past but never show lameness.

A: Any change, especially a sudden one, in the appearance of a hoof is cause for concern even if the horse shows no sign of lameness. It is an indication of some serious changes occurring and the cause needs to be determined and corrected as soon as possible.

 My first suggestion would be to check your shoeing records to be sure that your horse’s feet are being trimmed to the correct specifications. If his feet have been fine up until two trims ago, then my first thought is to be sure that nothing has changed the way his feet are being trimmed. It only takes a small deviation from a balanced state to cause serious problems. Failing to correctly trim a hoof in a timely manner is perhaps the most common reason for a hoof to get out of shape. This is why maintaining a shoeing record is so important. 

Next, I would suggest you discuss this with your farrier. He or she is most likely the one who is going to have to make the proper corrections in order to bring this hoof back into a balanced state. Their findings may indicate that the problem can be corrected simply by trimming or depending on their findings, they may suggest you consult a vet, for x-rays perhaps, especially if it appears that laminitis may be involved. 

The important thing here is to find out just what has caused a normal looking hoof to change shape. In the absence of any external reasons for the change, then one has to look inward to see if there has been a change affecting the internal structures of the hoof. 

However, without being able to actually examine the hoof, my very first suggestion would be to find an experienced farrier who, after examining your horse, should be able walk you through all the possibilities and help you develop a plan to correct the problem. 

I’m sorry I cannot be more specific. I think that an onsite examination is going to be critical to solving your problem. There are just too many variables to make an assumption without examining your horse. 

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q: I have a racehorse with a blown suspensory, is there a shoe that I can forge to hold up the suspensory? with straps maybe?

 A: This is a case where it is extremely important for the owner, farrier and veterinarian to work together to develop a satisfactory plan to get the horse back on its feet.

The first thing is to determine the extent of the injury. Is it just a mild case of suspensory strain or more serious, involving possible injury to bones as well.

Your vet should be able to perform diagnostic tests to determine this. They also should be able to work with your farrier, or you, if you shoe your own horses, to suggest the type of support (shoe and/or brace) that offers the best chance for recovery.

While there are a number of shoes (a run down shoe, for example) and braces used to treat suspensory injuries, the exact construction will depend on the individual situation. I’m sorry I cannot be more specific, but it is impossible to suggest one over another without actually examining the horse and situation.

Examples of some specific horseshoes and surgical leg braces can be seen in the book, The Principles of Horseshoeing II, by Dr. Doug Butler. This is an excellent resource for anyone who owns a horse and/or works on horse’s feet.

Custom made orthopedic braces for horses: http://www.horsebrace.com/

Also here: http://www.nchorsenews.com/horse_brace.htm

I think it is great that you are able to forge your own shoes. Perhaps you could locate a farrier with experience treating this type of injury who would be willing to assist you in designing a shoe that fits your horse’s exact needs. The American Farrier’s Association has a find a farrier service: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/index.php

I hope I’ve been able to help with your situation. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. Best of luck to you and your horse.

Q: How long does bruising take to heal?  The bruising is at toe because of poor trimming.  My TB eventer wears 4 shoes.  We've had difficulty finding a good farrier in our area.  He has 2 odd front feet - one underrun heal which never grows and one heal that grows well.  Last trim his toes were too long and heals too low, so the farrier tells me the toes were bruised by the breakover.  The white line was pink at toe when trimmed - does color indicate how fresh the bruise is?  We now have a 3/8 wedge on the underrun heal which brings him up to the correct angle.  Is this too much to start with on the first change?  Other farriers have only extended shoe behind hoof slightly, saying that would help grow more heal, which it doesn't.  Right now the horse is also lame from a strain on the front leg (when he threw a shoe) so it's hard to tell when the bruising is better.  Any advice on proper angles and wedges would be welcomed or I could send pictures of his feet at present time.  Thanks.

A: Because the time it takes for a bruise to heal depends on a number of factors, it is not really possible to be very specific. The cause, location, severity and treatment of the bruise can all affect the recovery time needed. The first thing is to determine the cause of the bruise, so that it may be eliminated, thereby preventing the situation from continuing/worsening as well as interfering with the healing process.

It sounds like you have identified the cause as being directly related to the quality of hoof care provided by the last farrier to work on your horse. You may wish to consider using the American Farrier’s Association “Find a Farrier” resource to locate a farrier in your area: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/index.php

There may be a state farrier association that could provide a recommendation as well as your vet may be able to suggest someone whose work they recommend. You may wish to explore the possibility of using the Internet to locate a Thoroughbred Association near you that you could query for the name of a qualified farrier. I used the search term Thoroughbred Association and found numerous links to chapters in both Canada and the United States.

A description of, “one underrun heal which never grows and one heal that grows well” may indicate either a really poor trimming job by a farrier and/or a horse with particular hoof problems that prevent the feet from ever looking identical. A farrier should be able to tell you if the feet are just not being trimmed correctly or if there is another problem that needs to be addressed.

Last trim his toes were too long and heals too low, so the farrier tells me the toes were bruised by the breakover.  The white line was pink at toe when trimmed - does color indicate how fresh the bruise is?

Color is not always the best way to determine the “freshness” of a bruise, especially one in the white line. An examination that may include the use of hoof testers may be a better indication as to the severity and degree to which the bruise has healed. Treatment should always begin at the first sign of soreness and continue long enough for the bruise to completely heal. The color will not be absorbed back into the hoof wall or white line and will remain until it is trimmed out as the hoof grows out.

We now have a 3/8 wedge on the underrun heal which brings him up to the correct angle.  Is this too much to start with on the first change? Not in my opinion. I would return him to his correct angles as fast as possible.

It sounds like you have identified the main problem, which is the need for quality hoof care. The long toe/low heel situation when caused by improper trimming should be avoided at all costs. If the cause of the mismatched front feet is due to human error, then the problem should go away once the horse’s feet are brought back into balance. If the problem is related to a physical or conformation problem, then a farrier should be able to trim/shoe the horse accordingly.

I would suggest if you have not already done so, that you keep a shoeing record of some type so that you will know exactly hoof lengths and angles will keep your horse sound. Once your horse has been trimmed/shod correctly, this information will allow you to tell any farrier exactly how you want your horse’s feet trimmed and/or shod as well as help you identify if he is not being trimmed to your specifications. There is some information on this webpage that you may find helpful. http://www.antelopepress.com/hs_record.htm

Other farriers have only extended shoe behind hoof slightly, saying that would help grow more heal, which it doesn't.  It is much easier to remove too much heel from a hoof than it is to bring the heel back to its correct angle. There are a number of different techniques used to help bring a horse’s heels back into their proper state. Each case has to be evaluated according to the individual situation. This is something that requires an examination of the horse and consulting with the owner in order to develop a workable plan to return the horse to a sound condition.

Right now the horse is also lame from a strain on the front leg (when he threw a shoe) so it's hard to tell when the bruising is better. I would think that it would be prudent to treat the bruise until it no longer bothers the horse. As I mentioned earlier, the color will not be absorbed back into the hoof wall or white line and will remain until it is trimmed out as the hoof grows out.

Proper angles and wedges. These will have to be determined by a farrier after an examination of the horse. They are dependant on the horse’s conformation and will vary from horse to horse.

I could send pictures of his feet at present time. I'll be happy to look at pictures of your horse’s feet: My email address is: farrier@antelopepress.com

I hope I’ve been able to answer your questions satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: My mare has a quarter crack on her back right hoof. I knew she had it when I bought her, the previous owners told me she had had it for a long time and it was healing. I asked my coach to look at it and she said it looked like it was growing out. Yesterday when I went to see her, the crack looked like it had split. I'm very worried about what this will do. I've been doing some research on it but can't seem to find a site that will explain everything clearly. Is this crack going to cause my mare to go lame and will she always have some pain?

A: Cracks are relatively common and not all cracks result in either short-term lameness or long-term disability. The vast majority are treated with no long-term adverse effects to the horse. It is good to see that you are not only aware of the problem but you are also monitoring the situation closely.

Not all cracks cause pain and your awareness of the possible consequences of ignoring the situation should help you prevent the crack from reaching that point. The best advice I can offer at this point is to locate a farrier familiar with, and experience in treating hoof cracks. There are too many variables involved in treating hoof cracks for you not to seek out someone with the knowledge and understanding of the nuances involved in dealing with this particular problem.

Hoof cracks may be shallow, and cause no harm, or deep, penetrating to the sensitive tissues of the hoof structure where they can cause a great deal of harm to the point of threatening the long-term soundness of the horse.

If a crack is growing out and suddenly goes active, then I think you are correct in being concerned and should have a farrier check it out.

The two most common causes of hoof cracks are from an injury to the coronary band or a hoof care program that is lacking in some way.

An injury to the coronary band will often lead to the production of a weak and/or deformed hoof wall, and that in turn may lead to cracks originating at the coronary band.

Improperly maintained or imbalanced trimming of a hoof is probably the most common cause of hoof cracks. An unbalanced hoof will not be able to handle the stresses placed upon it. Cracks are a frequent result.

The very first thing in dealing with any crack is to determine the reason it is there in the first place. Only then can the farrier decide on a course of action that offers the best solution. This leads to me repeating my earlier suggestion that you find a farrier who has experience in dealing with hoof cracks and one that is willing to spend the time and effort necessary to offer your horse its best chance to remain sound.

There are numerous ways to deal with the crack itself, but they all begin with a balanced hoof. The trim is the most important part of dealing with hoof cracks. The hoof has to be trimmed to the proper hoof length and hoof angle dictated by the conformation of the individual horse if there is to be any chance for the crack to heal.

In order to be more specific, one has to examine the horse. This is where finding a farrier who has dealt with hoof cracks becomes so important. Each situation presents its own special challenges and there is often more than one way to approach a particular situation.

The farrier has to take into account the type of crack, the root cause of the crack, the conformation of the horse, the environmental conditions as well as the physical condition of the horse, among other considerations before he or she can offer you, the owner, their suggestions for dealing with the crack. As you can see, there is no simple answer to how to treat a crack, which brings us back to finding a farrier willing and able to help you and your horse through this situation.

A hoof crack that begins to split and work is a definite indication that this hoof needs special attention.

If you think the crack is starting to split, the easiest way to monitor this is to either measure and record the length of the crack and compare measurements on a regular basis or you could use a magic marker to mark the end of the crack and see if it progresses beyond the mark. This may at least offer you the peace of mind as you work to correct this situation.

I wish you the best of luck in finding a farrier who will help you through this difficult situation. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q: Recently purchased a 6 yr old quarter horse. When we got him home, he was sound. He was trotting around the paddock with my other horse quite a bit, and after a few hours, we noticed he was lame on his left front when he trotted. He is not lame at the walk, and he stands normally with his weight evenly distributed. He will stand quietly on the lame leg when I pick up the opposite foot. On the lunge line, he is more lame going to the left than the right (trotting). There is no heat or swelling anywhere on his legs and no heat in his feet. Could this be a stone bruise (there are quite a few rocks in the paddock), or the result of a kick from my other horse higher up?

A: Just based on your description of him being sound when he arrived and then going lame after trotting around your paddock, I’d have to agree that it is possible that he managed to bruise himself on a stray stone. It sounds like you performed a thorough check for any obvious signs of heat or swelling and in the absence of anything else out of the ordinary, a stone bruise sounds likely. I would think that a kick would have left some sign such as a soreness to the touch or swelling at the very least. Another possibility would be a muscle strain at his shoulder or a bruise to a bone from a kick.

If you think it could be a stone bruise, you may wish to protect the sole with a pad (leather, plastic, cardboard) or even better would be a slip-one boot such as an Easyboot. Here are a few sites for slip-on shoes/boots

http://www.equineperformanceproducts.com/easyboot.htm (the plain Easyboot-$35.00)
http://www.swisshorseboot.de/com/html4/index.html

http://www.davismanufacturing.com/products/barrier_boot.html

So, unfortunately, the answer to your questions is the non-definitive “maybe” to either a stone bruise or an injury related to a kick or strain. If you have access to hoof testers, then it should be a simple matter to determine if a bruise to the sole is the cause. Then a pad or other form of sole protection should help alleviate the pain as well as provide protection while the bruise heals.

Your farrier should be able to help you determine if it is a sole bruise and your vet should be able to locate the problem if it is not. The most important thing would be to make a definite determination of the cause so that you can address it in order to allow it to heal and to prevent another injury that results from the horse compensating for the original injury.

Good luck with your new horse and I wish him a most speedy recovery.

 

Q: My 5 year old has a bad quarter crack that was healed last year with bar shoes. it recracked this year and he went lame. even stalled he seems to still be cracking. he is on a biotin supplement and hoof ointment. is there a better way to manage this or special way to trim and shoe. the reason for this cracking is from a leg injury two years. he has seen a vet without any new advice.

A: Managing a quarter crack that is the result of an injury presents a unique set of challenges for the horse owner and the farrier as well. In some cases where the injury has resulted in a permanent weakness to the hoof and/or altered the way in which the normal everyday stresses are applied to the hoof structure, that hoof may develop special trimming/shoeing needs in order to remain sound and to prevent the crack from reoccurring.

The key here is that once you have identified the reason for the crack (as you have), your farrier (in conjunction with your vet, if such a consultation is warranted) should develop a hoof care program that will keep the foot stabilized. This not only allows the crack to heal, but should prevent it from reoccurring.

I think that Biotin supplements and hoof treatments are fine as long as they are producing results.

The actual particulars as to how to trim and shoe the foot will vary with the individual situation. It will depend on the location and severity of the injury as well as how the injury affects the hoof’s ability to handle the stress loads placed upon the hoof and how those changes affect the other hooves as well.

It takes an onsite examination and evaluation to figure out the nuances of each case and therefore, the best advice I can offer is to find a farrier with experience in dealing with these types of injuries. I realize that this may be easier said than done, but this type of hoof care problem needs to be addressed by someone who understands all that it takes to keep a horse with this type injury from cycling back and forth from sound to lame due to the same old problem.

If the farrier and vet are not able to offer anything that helps you move forward with the problem, then I would suggest it may be time to find a farrier and vet who will. Just fixing the crack without offering a plan to deal with the long-term effects brought about by the injury is only half a solution at best. The American Farrier’s Association has a “find a Farrier page: http://www.americanfarriers.org/find_a_farrier/state_results.php?state=10 You may wish to contact the state farrier’s associations for your location to see if they can offer a referral.

It is encouraging that you were able to fix the crack once, which would lead one to believe that it can be done again, only this time with provisions for the long-term care to be included.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Q:17 year horse hoofs trimmed to short then foundered laid around 3 weeks after 3 months is up and walking can he be speeded to recover. 

A: Probably not. Founder is a very serious event and the horse will need plenty of time to recover. This process should not be rushed. A couple of factors affecting the length of time it takes for him to recover include his overall physical condition and how much damage he incurred as a result of the founder event. You may wish to discuss this with your vet and farrier, as together they should be able to assist you in setting a recovery schedule for getting your horse back on its feet.

Best of luck to you and your horse.

 

Q: What do you do with horses with bruised hoofs?

 A: In this case, I’m assuming you are speaking of the sole or frog of the hoof that is bruised.

 Sole bruises usually appear as red spots or “strawberries” in the sole or frog and can be of variable size. They are most often the result of trauma that has caused the blood vessels in the sensitive structures to rupture. Sometimes the white line or the hoof wall may appear red.

 As with any injury, the cause should be determined in order to prevent it from reoccurring.

 In cases of sole bruising, the horse should be taken off work and the environment of the horse should be changed so that the horse is not exposed to, or stalled on hard ground.

 The sole/frog itself, depending on the severity of the injury, may need further protection in the form of a pad, a wide-webbed concaved shoe (or shoe and pad) in order for the bruise to heal. There are a number of slip-on shoe/boot available on the market that can be used in cases like this.

 It is very important to allow sufficient time for the injury to completely heal before beginning work again. In addition, one has to be aware that occasionally a bruise will lead to an abscess forming and this will necessitate additional treatment.

 If you think your horse has a bruised hoof, I would suggest calling your farrier and having them examine the hoof. They will be able to assist you deterring the cause of the injury and will be able to help you develop a plan for treating it.

 Bruises are not all that uncommon and the prognosis is usually good, but guarded, as some cases tend to become chronic, especially on those horses with thin soles/walls.

 A professional diagnosis, proper care and time will go a long way to getting the horse back on its feet.

 I hope this has answered your question satisfactorily. Thank you.

Q: Hi there, My barefoot trimmer went to trim the black gooky stuff out of the center of my horses frog today, and either he moved or they slipped, and his frog ended up getting cut pretty good, and bled a bunch. We packed it w/betadine soaked cotton balls in a diaper, called the vet, who said he'd be fine. I am still worried as my trimmer had never encountered this nor have I. Other than keeping it wrapped, is there anything else I should be concerned with, are there any possibilities something could come from this. He is boarded a town away from me. Thanks, I am worried sick, and recovering from surgery.

A: Hello,

Sorry to hear of your horse’s misfortune (and yours, too.). It is fortunate for us that horses have amazing recuperative powers. Cuts to the frog do tend to bleed a lot even from relatively small wounds. While injuries of this sort are rare, they do happen and most of the time the horse recovers without any long-lasting effects, save for a possible wariness the next time the farrier attempts to work on that foot. Once the injury is healed, you might want to spend some extra time working with him just to reinforce his good manners and to avoid any problems when it is time to have his feet trimmed again.

I’m glad you called the vet. If he or she is satisfied with your treatment after hearing your description of the seriousness of the injury, then I would follow their advice while making sure the wound is kept clean and allowed time to heal. Keeping the wound free of manure and/or other debris in order to prevent an infection from setting in would be my main concern. Hopefully the managers of the boarding facility will understand your concerns and being aware of your personal situation, let you know of any change in your horse’s condition.

It sounds like you are handling the situation with the best interests of your horse in mind and that should get your horse back on his feet in the shortest mount of time. If your horse’s condition worsens, then you can call out the vet, who because of your previous call will already have a leg up on the situation. Hopefully this won’t be necessary and the cut will heal without causing further problems.

Best wishes to you and your horse for a most speedy recovery.

Q: Hi--About one month ago my shoer saw a bruise on my yearling's front hoof.  She would favor it somewhat when she walked and when she stood she would rest her hoof on her toe.  She seemed to be getting better and now she started resting on her toe again the last couple of days. Could the bruise still be bothering her or could it be something more serious?  My shoer will be coming out in a few days.  Is there anything I can do for a bruised hoof?  How long do they normally take to heal?  Thank you for your time.

A: Hello,

I’m sure you understand that without actually examining your horse that it is impossible for me to state for certain what is happening, but from your description of the events, this is where I would begin my search.

If your horse is beginning to favor the same foot as before, then it suggests that perhaps the bruise, and more specifically, whatever else besides the bruise was injured, is the cause of this problem.

Additionally, whenever a horse is reluctant to put a foot squarely on the ground, it is possible that the problem may extend beyond a simple bruise. Therefore I would suggest having the hoof examined at the earliest opportunity.

Anytime a horse begins to favor a foot, you should always make a thorough examination of the entire lower leg structure to be sure the injury is confined just to the hoof and to be sure it is only a bruise. Even then, it is not uncommon for a bruise alone to lead to an abscess.

If you are comfortable working around her feet and she is used to you handling her feet and will stand quietly, then and only then, should you attempt to see if you can feel any heat in the lower limb. It is simply too dangerous otherwise. In certain cases, simple thumb pressure to a tender sole is enough to establish the location of an abscess. BE AWARE: Even a little pressure exerted on an abscess may be EXTREMELY PAINFUL and may cause even the most gentlest of horses to react violently. If this is not something you are familiar with doing, then leave it to your farrier or vet. The danger is real and not to be taken lightly.

The length of time it takes a bruised sole to heal depends on the severity of the injury and the amount of time allowed for it to heal before going back to work. A simple test with hoof testers should provide an idea as to the severity of the injury as well as helping to determine how the healing is progressing. I would suggest that the time it takes for a bruise to fully heal would be measured in week (s) rather than days.

One should always carefully inspect the site of the bruise in order to determine if in fact there has not been a puncture or crack in the sole that will allow an infection to become established. This examination should extend to all parts of the lower limb, at the very least.

Frequently, a bruise will lead to an abscess that may cause a lameness that seems to be getting better, only to start to become worse again as the infection spreads under the sole.

Sometimes these abscesses will open and drain of their own accord and the horse appears to be getting better, only to have the situation worsen when the abscess closes and once again begins to fester.

I would suggest having someone examine your horse’s hoof at the earliest opportunity to be sure that an abscess is not causing her problem. If left untreated, not only is the horse in pain, but the longer it takes discover the true nature of the problem and begin a treatment program, the longer the recovery time is going to be.

While I don’t wish to be an alarmist, I do think that anytime a horse begins to get worse, then immediate action needs to be taken. If there is an abscess, then it needs to be treated and if it is not the problem, then the real problem needs to be identified so it can be treated. Of course, it could be a case of simply going back to work too soon and not allowing enough time for the bruise to heal, which your vet or farrier should be able to discern.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance. I wish you and your horse the speediest of recoveries.

Q:  How to fix cracks in hooves?

A: The first step in dealing with hoof cracks is to determine the cause of the crack.

A common reason a horse develops cracks in its hooves is simply due to the lack of proper and timely trimmings. A well balanced hoof is one of the surest ways to avoid hoof cracks.

Hoof cracks may be superficial, if for example, they are caused by excessive dryness of the hoof. Or, the cracks may go much deeper and cause more problems if caused by serious trauma such as an injury to the coronary band.

Once the farrier has examined the horse and determined the reason for the crack, then and only then, can a plan for treating the hoof be developed. Hoof cracks are an indication of a serious problem that is having an adverse effect on the well-being of the horse, which if left untreated will more than likely develop into a very costly and time consuming problem.

Fixing hoof cracks is serious business, requiring both the horse owner and the farrier working together in developing a plan of action and then carrying it out.

Thank you for this question regarding hoof cracks.

Q: My blacksmith has cut a section of toe off. It looks square now. My little 27 inch high horse has had laminitis. Will it grow back normally? Thank you, Liz

A: Hello Liz,

It sounds like your little fellow has had a bit of a rough go of it. When dealing with hooves affected by laminitis, it is quite common to remove as much of the distorted hoof as possible while allowing the hoof and associated structures to regain their footing, so to speak. This may leave the horse with a squared off looking hoof.

It has been my experience that the hoof, given the proper care, will return to a more normal shape … how much so depends on the severity of the laminitis and any possible damage cause by it. If you are wondering if the hoof will continue to grow out, then yes it should and with careful attention to frequent trimmings and following through with a course of action you and your farrier have agreed upon it most likely will once again take on a more normal look.

Good luck to you and your horse. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

Q: When the farrier was trimming my horse I noticed that there was a dark pink line about 1/8” wide running parallel with the white line.  It looked like he had a pink horseshoe on.  He also had a few spots of pink splotches on the sole of the foot.  The horse hasn't been on grass.  Only gets about 3 cups of trotter twice of day and hay.  Also he hasn't shown any sign of lameness but he has been treated for Lyme in the past.  This horse has been so good versatile and willing to try anything so I want to be sure I nip any problems in the bud.  Thanks for your time.

A: Hi,

I received your question, twice, but since there was no email attached to either one, I’ll post it here.

Anytime you have any red color on the bottom of the hoof, it is possible that it is blood in some form or another. It could be dried blood, suggesting a bruise (old or new), the result of a poorly fitted horseshoe, or an injury to the hoof wall itself caused by any number of things ranging from strenuous use, the horse striking itself, to overwork on a hard surface. In the case you describe, with the horse not being lame and with it having had an earlier problem, I would hazard a guess that what you are seeing are the residual effects of an earlier event that affected the laminae of the hoof. This dried blood, if in fact that is what it is, will most likely grow out with the hoof and cause no further problems. The splotches on the sole will bear watching to be sure they do not develop into anything harmful.

If you have any doubts as to the cause or effect this may have on your horse, I would suggest asking your farrier for clarification and if he or she is unable to satisfactorily address your concerns, then perhaps your vet would be able to help.

It really does require examining the horse in order to make a definitive diagnosis and I always tell people to error on the side of caution whenever they have a situation with their horse’s feet.

As with any abnormality to the hoof, you may wish to keep an eye on the splotches just to be sure they are not part of an active event. It is good you noticed this and it is something that should be investigated if for no other reason than your own peace of mind.

Good luck and please feel free to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

Q: What is the cause of fever lines or what they call grass lines in a horses hoof and should I be concerned; also what should I watch for as far as illness?

A: Rings that circle the hoof and that run parallel to the coronary band are quite common and are called by a number of names: fever rings, hot rings, grass or growth rings. These rings are normal and can be associated with changes in a horse’s feed, nutritional intake, climatic changes as well as a change in location or other systemic changes in the horse’s environment.

Most rings are indications of things that have happened in the past and are not harbingers of bad things to come.

Rings that are wavy in appearance or those that slope toward the ground at the heels may be cause for concern. Sometimes, but not always, these rings can be associated with founder, especially rings that slope and are widest apart at the heels. Other causes for wavy lines can be thrush, various yeast infections of the hoof, ring bone, side bone, abscesses of the hoof and uneven weight distribution.

A short time ago, I received a similar question. You might enjoy reading that answer. The link below should take you to it.

My horse has rings on his hooves. I never noticed them before and wonder what causes them and if there is something I should do to make them go away?

I hope I’ve been able to answer your question satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

 

Q: Quittor leg joints tendons ligament damage.

A: I’m going to assume the main focus of the question is about “quittor” and its relationship to the other parts of the leg/hoof structure.

Quittor (necrosis of the lateral cartilage(s) is described as an infection of the lateral cartilage(s). The condition may be the result of a puncture wound that has become infected, chronic abscesses of the sole or persistent interfering. Quittor is characterized by necrosis of the affected cartilage and sinus drainage through the coronary band.

Here is an excellent article on the subject. Also, the site itself is worth noting for the variety of information available on related equine subjects.

http://www.liphookequinehosp.co.uk/llquittor.htm

This is a very serious condition that usually requires close coordination between farrier and veterinarian.

Please feel free to contact me if you have additional questions concerning this matter.

Buz

Q: What would cause a horse's hoof to crack from side to side? There are 3 pretty good cracks about an inch and a 1/2 and about 1 inch down from where the hairline is.

A: Hello,

It has been my experience that a horizontal crack (one running sideways on a hoof) usually appears after the root cause of the event (most likely an injury or abscess at the coronet) has reached its peak and therefore the crack itself rarely poses any further threat.

You will want to make sure that it does not become packed with manure, mud or other debris. If the horse does not exhibit any lameness that can be associated with this event, then I wouldn’t worry too much about them until they reach ground level.

The main concern with this type of crack is that it moves down the hoof as the hoof wall grows out and it may pose a problem when it approaches the bottom of the hoof. In some cases, it may interfere with the nailing on of a horseshoe, or be so large as to cause a real weakness in the overall structure of the hoof wall requiring the attention of a farrier before it chips or breaks off. How your farrier handles the situation will depend in part, upon whether or not the horse is barefoot or wearing shoes.

If in doubt, you should call your farrier and ask him or her to come over and check it out. Your horse relies on you for all of his care and it never hurts to error on the side of caution if you are unsure how to handle a situation.

While the average crack of this type is usually more of an inconvenience than an ongoing serious problem, it is good that you noticed it and it is something that you will want to bring to the attention of your farrier.

There is an interesting article about hoof cracks in general at the following website that you may find interesting.

http://horsedoc_org.tripod.com/id350.htm

Please feel free to contact me again if I can help you with anything else.

Happy trails.

 

Q: My horse hoof started growing out white, like a film on top outer part of hoof, it is now about a inch long, it goes across hoof like a ring.
Do you know this is?

A: Hi,

I’m going to have to take a guess at this since I have seen neither the horse nor a picture of the hoof.

It sounds like you may be talking about the periople. The perioplic ring is a narrow ring located just above the coronary band next to the hairline of the coronet. Basically, it produces the periople that normally extends about ¾ to 1 inch down the wall of the coronet, blending in with the frog at the heel of the hoof.

The periople, very strong and with about the same consistency as the horny frog, protects the sensitive coronary band at its juncture with the skin and hoof.

Here are a couple of websites that discuss the structures of the hoof in general, including the Perioplic Ring and periople. You may find them helpful in your quest.

http://www.foxtrotters.org/artdry_hoof.htm

http://www.equinextion.com/id31.html

Your farrier and/or vet should be able to tell you if this is what you are seeing. If you feel your horse’s situation warrants, then a call to either of these professionals would be in order.

Please let me know if this is not what you are seeing and we’ll look elsewhere for an answer.

Q: My horse is losing hair around the hoof.  What is causing this?

A: Hi,

Unwarranted hair loss anywhere on a horse is cause for concern.

I have a few questions that may help point you in the right direction in your search for an answer.

Is this the only place on the horse experiencing a loss of hair?

Is the problem on all four feet or just the fronts or hinds or one of each or only one?

Is it possible that a boot or wrap is causing the problem through irritation or being applied to tightly? Is the horse outgrowing any boots or wraps being used?

If it is only on one foot, is it possible that foot (or feet) has gotten tangled up in a piece of wire, rope or hose and scraped the hair off in attempting to get loose?

Have you checked to be sure there is not some sort of an injury to the area? Maybe a puncture or porcupine quill that has become infected resulting in a hair loss?

Is it possible the horse has gotten into some chemical or petroleum product and this is causing the hair to fall out?

Is the horse on any medication? Is it possible the horse has developed a reaction to a hoof dressing?

Are you able to keep this area of the horse’s leg and hoof clean and dry?

Does the horse paw and may have caught his leg on the fence and removed the hair in pulling back?

If after a close inspection of the area, you still are unable to determine the cause of this hair loss, then I would suggest calling your vet and/or farrier to help you and your horse out.

If you could send me a picture of the legs showing the hair loss, it would help in trying to figure out the problem.

Good luck and please let me know how things work out or if there is anything else I can help you with.

Q:  I have a mare whose hoof will chip or crack just above the shoe and leave an open space.  What preventative would you recommend.  I am already using biotin and a hoof dressing for moistening the hoof.  Thanks for your response.

A: Hello,

The most common reason I can think of for the hoof wall to deteriorate above a shoe would be old nail holes. If the horse has been shod in such a way as to not allow for enough space between the old and new holes, you can see that the closer together the old and new holes are, the weaker the hoof wall will become.

If the hoof has sustained an injury to the coronary band that produces a permanent ridge down the hoof wall, that may be chronically weaker than other parts of the hoof wall and be more susceptible to chipping because of this.

You may also wish to be sure that the hoof itself is healthy and not experiencing any major white line disease or other problems that can significantly weaken the hoof wall.

Usually a horseshoe will protect the hoof wall from further chipping so your case is very interesting from that aspect. Something else to consider is the fit of the shoe to the hoof.

In some cases it is necessary to shoe a horse fairly close to prevent the loss of the shoe due to the terrain, workload or climatic conditions or to prevent the horse from injuring itself. In this case, the hoof may overgrow the shoe and at this point if the horse catches the overgrowth just right, it may chip and remove hoof wall above the shoe itself.

If this information is not what you are looking for, then perhaps you could contact me directly and send a picture of the affected hoof, so I could get better understand the problem. In addition, it would help to know if all four feet are affected and when in the shoeing cycle this occurs.

In the meantime, I hope I’ve been able to offer a few possible clues that will allow you to solve your chipping problem.

 

Q: Thrush symptons?

A: The first sign of thrush is usually the appearance of a really foul odor coming from the bottom of a hoof and a “cheesy” appearance of the frog. The odor is very different than that of a normal hoof.

Here are a few articles that get into pretty good detail about the causes, cures and diagnosing of thrush.

http://petcaretips.net/thrush_horse.html
http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/
http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/best/article.php?aid=47567

I will mention that since the bacteria that cause thrush are quite common, the main prevention method is to clean your horse’s feet on a regular basis.

All it takes is for anything to trap the bacteria long enough for it to get a foothold and then you’re into curing instead of preventing.

I think you will find these articles helpful and interesting in learning about thrush.

Please let me know if these articles do not answer your question satisfactorily and I’ll see what else I can come up with.

Thanks for the question

Q: hi I am looking at alovely standardbred mare who is perfect in every way but has these rings atleast 4 or 5 on every hoof but the only thing we know about her is she never raced and that she has had  4  foals(her fist when she was  3 and she 14 now&#41 ...

A: Hello,

It is great to see that you included the feet in your pre-purchase inspection.

Because nothing can take the place of a hands-on inspection, I would suggest asking your own vet and farrier to inspect the horse or at least speak with the vet and/or farrier who work on the horse in order to be sure the owner has not forgotten something that may influence your decision.

Rings that circle the hoof and that run parallel to the coronary band are quite common and are called by a number of names: fever rings, hot rings, grass or growth rings. These rings are normal and can be associated with changes in a horse’s feed, nutritional intake, climatic changes as well as a change in location or other systemic changes in the horse’s environment.

Rings that are wavy in appearance or those that slope toward the ground at the heels may be cause for concern. Sometimes, but not always, these rings can be associated with founder, especially rings that slope and are widest apart at the heels. Other causes for wavy lines can be thrush, various yeast infections of the hoof, ring bone, side bone, abscesses of the hoof and uneven weight distribution.

While the rings that appear on a horse’s hooves may not be able to tell you the age of the horse like the rings in a section of a tree, they are similar in that they do indicate different events in the horse’s past.

First, the rings themselves do not appear to cause the horse any harm. They are indicators of changes that have occurred during the normal routine of its life.

They are sometimes called stress rings or stress indicators because one of the reasons they appear is when the horse experiences a period of increased stress in its life.

Hoof rings may result from something traumatic such as a serious illness or injury or something as simple as a seasonal change in diet. Moving a horse from one pasture to another or from one stable to another is sometimes all it takes for rings to form.

The only time I really worry about hoof rings is when the ends of the rings drop down uniformly a considerable distance as they come around the hoof and reach the heels. Laminitis and/or founder will sometimes produce rings that drop down at the heels.

Quite often, you can determine the cause of the rings by figuring out when they would have first formed. Assuming it takes approximately one year for a hoof to replace itself, then if the rings appear midway down a recently trimmed hoof, a check of your records from six months ago may give an indication of a change in your horse’s routine. A simple way to keep track of your horse’s hoof program can be found here: http://www.antelopepress.com/horseshoe_record_book.htm

There is nothing you can do to make them go away once they appear other than to use sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth them out. However, I do not recommend this as they cause the horse no harm and I do not think using an abrasive on any hoof is a good idea. You are bound to remove some of the natural protective covering that Mother Nature has provided and as the saying goes, "It’s not nice (or wise) to fool with Mother Nature."

Hoof rings are definitely something to look for during a pre-purchase inspection. It is good that you noticed them If their appearance is not something that you are comfortable with, then I would suggest having your farrier/vet perform a pre-purchase inspection to address your concerns.

Good luck and I hope this horse turns out to just the one you are looking for.

Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Q: What is thrush?

A: Thrush is a very common disease of the foot. The bacteria that causes thrush lives in an anaerobic (no air) environment. Spherophorus necrophorus or Fusobacterium necrophorum.

It is present in most dirt and manure. It becomes a problem when it is allowed to pack into the foot and remain there long enough for the bacteria to begin to attack the hoof.

While is usually associated with unkempt barns or unclean living conditions, thrush can appear just about anywhere. All it takes is for a piece of bedding, wood chip, shaving, rock or stick to become lodged in the hoof with the bacteria laden material underneath and if the conditions are right, thrush may become a problem.

The easiest way to prevent thrush is to clean your horse’s feet with a hoof pick on a regular basis. Not only will this help prevent the problem, it will alert you to its presence before it becomes something more than just a minor inconvenience.

Here are a couple of articles that discuss thrush, its prevention and cure.

http://petcaretips.net/thrush_horse.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/

http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/best/article.php?aid=47567

These websites are also worth noting for the wealth of information they provide on most things concerning horses.

Thank you for you question.

Q: My new horse has thrush so badly it looks like her feet are rotting from the inside out! She has been pastured for months and had only a filthy run-in to get out of the rain. Is there anything I can do for her besides daily treatment with a bleach/vinegar mixture? Can I ask my farrier to do anything special for her when he comes to do her feet?

A: Hi. Thrush can be a real problem for a horse and yours must surely be happy to have been rescued from the environment you described.

Here are a few links to some interesting articles on thrush that will most likely only serve to reinforce your personal knowledge base while offering a few suggestions you might find helpful.

http://petcaretips.net/thrush_horse.html

http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/

http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/best/article.php?aid=47567

Things you might ask your farrier would be for his or her suggestions regarding their own experiences in treating thrush. One thing I would advise would be to delay, until you have cleared up the problem, before applying full pads to the horse’s feet, if that were part of you hoof care program. Thrush needs the exposure to the air to assist in its removal.

One thing your farrier can help you with is the removal of any loose/decaying frog in order to prevent these things from providing a place for the thrush to thrive. This works right alongside your own program of keeping the hoof clean and free of any debris that will hinder your attempt to remove all of the bacteria from the hoof. A healthy frog, trimmed only to remove loose, diseased or semi-attached material that is in the process of being shed, is all the frog trimming the average horse will need. Excessive trimming of the frog for appearance’s sake is not necessary and may prove detrimental to the horse’s health.

The article at this location, http://www.equisearch.com/care/treatment/eqthrush305/, offers one way to make sure that whatever your personal choice of thrush-buster is, it will get into those areas that need to be treated.

Good luck with this and please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Thank you.

Q: One of my horses has nice hard black hooves. She is sound, but I've noticed evenly spaced lines that run parallel with the coronary band on all 4 hooves. The lines are about an inch apart and run down the entire length of the hoof. Any ideas as why they are there?

A: Bill, thanks for asking this question.

Rings that circle the hoof and that run parallel to the coronary band are quite common and are called by a number of names: fever rings, hot rings, grass or growth rings. These rings are normal and can be associated with changes in a horse’s feed, nutritional intake, climatic changes as well as a change in location or other systemic changes in the horse’s environment.

Most rings are indications of things that have happened in the past and are not harbingers of bad things to come.

Rings that are wavy in appearance or those that slope toward the ground at the heels may be cause for concern. Sometimes, but not always, these rings can be associated with founder, especially rings that slope and are widest apart at the heels. Other causes for wavy lines can be thrush, various yeast infections of the hoof, ring bone, side bone, abscesses of the hoof and uneven weight distribution.

A short time ago, I received a similar question. You might enjoy reading that answer. The link below should take you to it.

My horse has rings on his hooves. I never noticed them before and wonder what causes them and if there is something I should do to make them go away?

I hope I’ve been able to answer your question satisfactorily. Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Buz

Q: What is the fastest/most effective way to get rid of thrush in your opinion?

A: Thank you for your question regarding “thrush.”

Catching thrush early is important to preventing a minor annoyance from becoming a major hoof problem with the potential to cause serious and permanent injury to your horse.

Entering the term “thrush in horses” into the search box on Google reveals a number of websites where “thrush” is the main topic of discussion.

There are a number of products on the market specifically directed to the horse owner with a thrush problem. I have seen any number of them used with varying results.

Of course, if the thrush has advanced beyond the beginning stage, then I would recommend you contact your farrier and veterinarian in helping you develop a course of action.

The fastest/most effective method I have personally seen used in combating the beginning stages of thrush is with a 50/50 mix of household bleach/tap water solution.

Mixing one part household bleach with one part water and placing the solution in a squirt-type bottle helps prevent any of the solution from splashing into your eyes. Be very careful doing this as the bleach, even diluted, is extremely harmful if allowed to come in contact with your eyes. Needless to say, if your horse does not pick up its feet and stand quietly, I would enlist the aid of your vet or farrier.

First, the hoof is cleaned of all foreign material. This can be accomplished with a hoof pick, brush and running water. The hoof, picked up and held in such a manner as to deflect any of the solution from being accidentally splashed toward your face, should be held as level as possible, sole side up. This allows the solution to be gently squirted into the space between the frog and the sole, the commissure, left there for a short 10 count, before being allowed to drain off.

It is important to note that you do not want to soak the hoof in this solution. This could cause permanent serious injury to the horse. I suggest wrapping a towel around the leg at the coronet to catch any of the solution from running up and onto the horse’s leg. If some of the solution does run onto the leg, simply wash it off with lots of water.

In mild cases of thrush, the application of the solution a couple of times a week seems to take care of the problem.

If the thrush does not go away, or if it becomes worse, then you definitely need to have either a farrier or your vet examine the horse to help determine a proper course of action.

I would like to mention again, that there are a number of commercial products on the market that can be effective against thrush. You might talk to some horse owners in your area to see if they recommend a particular treatment.

Finally, I have seen thrush on horses of every type and in every imaginable situation, including spotless barns and well-tended horses. I believe the best preventive measure involves the cleaning and inspection of a horse’s feet on a regular basis. If thrush does appear, then a regular cleaning schedule gives the horse owner a leg up in ridding your horse of this affliction.

Good luck and I wish you a most enjoyable riding season

Q: The Blacksmith made my horses frog bleed.

A: The first concern with any bleeding wound is to apply the proper first aid measures to ensure the bleeding is stopped and the immediate implementation of a follow-up treatment to prevent infection and promote the healing process.

Your blacksmith should have assisted you in this at the time of the injury.

If you are still concerned with the condition of your horse's hoof, then I would strongly recommend contacting your veterinarian. Any open wound is a serious problem and one located on the bottom of a horse’s foot is no exception. Your veterinarian will be able to assist you in bringing your horse’s hoof back to its normal state.

The person most qualified to explain why the frog is bleeding, will be your blacksmith. After all, he or she was there and should be willing to offer a satisfactory explanation for the problem.

Trimming the frog too short, opening an abscess or removing a nail or other foreign object from the frog can all result in bleeding.

Communication with your blacksmith is important during the normal course of events and even more so in a case like yours.

This is one of the most important reasons that you should always be present when anyone works on your horse.

Good luck to you and your horse.

Q: Hi- My horse was running in the pasture and suddenly he came up 3 legged lame. When I caught him I found that his new (4 day old) shoe had partially come off and everytime he put his foot down the clip and nails would poke him.  The clip had bent in toward the hoof. I held his leg until someone came to help.  We tried to get the shoe off, but he would rear up everytime.  After several attempts he landed and the clip was on the outside of the hoof so we took him to his stall. A ferrier came out and removed the shoe. He is not mine and I was not there to ask him questions. I have soaked his foot and had it in an epsom salt wrap with padding and duct tape for 3 days.  I do not see any puncture wounds but it looks like there was some bleeding at the wall (kind of like what you would see if a hoof is cut too short).  He also has a chip (small) out of the hoof wall that was bleeding right after the incident. He stands fine on the foot and plays in his run, but with the wrap off jogs lame. When will I know when to put a shoe back on?  Any other advise?  Thanks.

A: Hi. Thank you for your question. Sorry your horse is lame.

Your checking for punctures was very good thinking. Anytime a horse partially pulls a shoe, there is a danger of puncture wounds caused by the nails and/or clips.

Soaking the hoof and packing it would be my choice of immediate first aid.

Sometimes puncture wounds to the bottom of the hoof can be very difficult to spot. If the bleeding at the wall is on the bottom of the hoof, it may very well be a puncture. Cleaning the area, checking for any foreign objects and then soaking the hoof,  would be my first course of action. It sounds like you are on top of the situation.

One thing to be aware of is that anytime you have a puncture to the sole of the hoof, there is always a possibility of an abscess forming. In my experience, if an abscess forms, the horse will become lame and get worse as time goes on (a matter of days). Locating an abscess on the sole is a fairly simple matter of applying measured direct pressure to the sole. This is best done by your farrier or your veterinarian (you can always ask them to show you how to do this for future reference).

You might also ask your farrier for some tips on removing a shoe. It is not really all that difficult and can be handy information to know.

The chip out of the hoof wall that was bleeding is going to be sore for a while. How long will most likely depend on its location and how much wall was removed.

If your horse is fine with the leg wrap and padding, but is lame when this protective material is removed, then he may need to wear a pad until the hoof completely recovers. He may also need to be re-shod immediately in order to protect the area of the hoof wall that chipped off.

I would strongly suggest you contact your farrier right away. Whoever put the shoe on your horse needs to know that, number one, it did not stay on, and number two, your horse was injured as a direct result of it coming off. The determination of when to put the shoe back on is going to require an inspection of the hoof by your farrier. At this time you will most likely re-evaluate the needs for the clips as well as try and determine if there is any particular reason the shoe did not stay on.

The original farrier should be more than willing to replace the shoe as well as provide any necessary corrective measures, such as a pad, that resulted from the shoe coming off and should offer to provide this service without charge. After all, without your business and that of the rest of his customers, he will be out of business.

I wish your horse a speedy recovery and I'll reiterate that your farrier should be notified anytime your horse loses a shoe and he or she should be willing to make whatever arrangements necessary to put you and your horse back on the trail as quickly as possible.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to help you out.

Q: While cleaning out my horse’s feet I discovered a horizontal crack about an inch or so long on the outside of one of his feet. It is not bleeding and he does not pull his foot away when I press on it, so I don’t think it hurts him. Is this serious? Should I call the vet or the farrier or can I ride him and hope it goes away?

A: It has been my experience that a horizontal crack (one running sideways on a hoof) usually appears after the root cause of the event has reached its peak and therefore rarely poses any further threat.

You will want to make sure that it does not become packed with manure, mud or other debris. If the horse does not exhibit any lameness that can be associated with this event, then I think you should be able to ride him without worrying about causing him any discomfort.

If in doubt, you should call your farrier and ask him or her to come over and check it out. Your horse relies on you for all of his care and it never hurts to error on the side of caution if you are unsure how to handle a situation.

The main concern with this type of crack is that it moves down the hoof as the hoof wall grows out and it may pose a problem when it approaches the bottom of the hoof. In some cases, it may interfere with the nailing on of a horseshoe, or be so large as to cause a real weakness in the overall structure of the hoof wall requiring the attention of a farrier before it chips or breaks off.

While the average crack of this type is usually more of an inconvenience than an ongoing serious problem, it is good that you noticed it and it is something that you will want to bring to the attention of your farrier.

Q: My horse has rings on his hooves. I never noticed them before and wonder what causes them and if there is something I should do to make them go away?

A: While the rings that appear on a horse’s hooves may not be able to tell you the age of the horse like the rings in a section of a tree, they are similar in that they do indicate different events in the horse’s past.

First, the rings themselves do not appear to cause the horse any harm. They are indicators of changes that have occurred during the normal routine of its life.

They are sometimes called stress rings or stress indicators because one of the reasons they appear is when the horse experiences a period of increased stress in its life.

Hoof rings may result from something traumatic such as a serious illness or injury or something as simple as a seasonal change in diet. Moving a horse from one pasture to another or from one stable to another is sometimes all it takes for rings to form.

The only time I really worry about hoof rings is when the ends of the rings drop down uniformly a considerable distance as they come around the hoof and reach the heels. Laminitis and/or founder will sometimes produce rings that drop down at the heels.

Quite often, you can determine the cause of the rings by figuring out when they would have first formed. Assuming it takes approximately one year for a hoof to replace itself, then if the rings appear midway down a recently trimmed hoof, a check of your records from six months ago may give an indication of a change in your horse’s routine.

There is nothing you can do to make them go away once they appear other than to use sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth them out. However, I do not recommend this as they cause the horse no harm and I don’t think using an abrasive on any hoof is a good idea. You are bound to remove some of the natural protective covering that Mother Nature has provided and as the saying goes, “It’s not nice (or wise) to fool with Mother Nature.”

Therefore, it is good that you noticed them and while they are definitely something to look for during a pre-purchase inspection, they are a very common occurrence and your farrier should be able to tell you if they represent anything serious.

 

Copyright © 2011 Antelope Press All Rights Reserved