Why Horse Hoof Cracks, Splits & Chips? (The Quick Fix Guide 2022)


Cracks, splits, and chips in the hoof are all fairly common issues in the world of equines. In almost all cases, eradication is possible with the application of adequate management.

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A Few Definitions Of Terminology:

  • Hoof cracks are caused by the tearing of the hoof wall and are visible on the outside of the hoof as an abnormal groove that can be either horizontal or vertical in orientation.
  • The term “split” refers to a crack or chip that has worsened to the point where it has widened and is now missing a significant portion of its original surface.
  • When the hoof of a horse begins to chip, the horse is experiencing a loss of stability at the bottom of the hoof, which causes it to tear chunks of hoof wall off.

A Few Reasons Why A Horse Hoof May Chip, Crack Or Split:

  • Dry conditions are bad for a horse’s hooves because they need the natural moisture that comes from rain and dew. When the weather is hot and dry, the hooves of a horse may require additional care from the horse’s owner in the form of hoof oils and conditioners in order to prevent the hooves from becoming brittle and falling off.
  • The chipping of hooves is sometimes caused by hooves that are too long. This issue can be easily resolved by having a qualified farrier visit the horse on the regular maintenance schedule that has been specifically recommended for that equine.
  • Hoof fractures are a potential complication of concussions. The cause of a horizontal crack in the hoof is frequently traced to an accidental kick to the wrong spot. Heat in the hoof can frequently accompany the development of horizontal cracks in the hoof. In order to determine the severity of the injury, a veterinarian and a farrier may be called.
  • Concerns Regarding Nutrition The diet of a horse can have an effect on the growth of its hooves. It is possible to come across a horse that has a greater requirement for a particular vitamin or supplement than the rest of the herd. This will be obvious in the form of microscopic cracks that extend from the coronet band all the way down to ground level. In most cases, this issue can be remedied with a high-quality hoof supplement.

What To Do About A Horse Hoof Crack, Split, Or Chip?

What should you do now that you have a horse with a cracked, split, or chipped hoof? According to how serious the problem is, there are a few different courses of action that can be taken. You will need to stabilize that hoof if there is enough of a split in it to cause constant destabilization when your horse is moving. To accomplish this, a shoe is worn, and possibly a patch is also applied, so that there is sufficient surface area to nail to and additional support is provided.

If the only reason your horse is chipping is due to its length, you might want to consider having your horse seen by the farrier more frequently. Ask your farrier about the quality of the hooves if he is chipping out and you have a decent schedule going already. The “flaking off” of the outside substance of the hoof can be a sign of a problem with the hoof, and it can be remedied with a good hoof supplement in some cases. Because it typically takes a hoof anywhere from eight to twelve months to fully regrow from the coronet band downward, seeing the results of this process takes some time. Also, keep in mind that if you live in a dry climate, hoof oils will help prevent your horse from developing brittle hooves and chipping off its hooves.

Now, if your horse’s hoof has a crack that runs vertically from the coronet band downward, this is typically an issue caused by trauma that has damaged the horn-producing cells at the very top of the hoof. If your horse has a crack that runs horizontally from the coronet band downward, this is usually an issue caused by an infection. If this region is severely damaged, it will no longer be able to produce hoof, and the horse will almost certainly have this crack for the rest of its life. There are a few intriguing experimental treatments that have been showing signs of progress in the industry, which could potentially reactivate growth in this area.

If the crack in the hoof is vertical and does not extend all the way to the coronet band, then the hoof can be repaired. If you light a fire across a crack in the wall, it will eventually help stabilize that area and stop the crack from progressing upwards. Sometimes using a shoe to maintain that stabilization until the crack grows out is a good idea until the crack grows out. There is also the option of using staples or stabilization bars with screws, both of which are viable solutions for larger cracks that are on the verge of splitting.

If you notice that your horses’ hooves are riddled with numerous fine cracks that extend in a vertical direction all the way around their soles, this is almost always the result of a dietary deficiency of some kind. Bear in mind that even if all of the horses in a herd are eating the same thing, this condition could be unique to one of the horses in the herd; however, if all of the horses appear to have the same problem, you might want to consider switching either their feed or their pasture. In circumstances like these, giving the horse a quality hoof supplement is another smart idea.

In most cases, horizontal cracks do not pose a problem unless they are so severe that they destabilize the hoof capsule. This happens when the cracks give the impression that the bottom section of the hoof could almost be pried off with enough force. In circumstances such as these, the application of staples or stabilization bars with screws might be a possibility, although this would depend on the location. The utilization of a particular mesh that is intended for application in conjunction with a hoof patch constitutes yet another alternative. Even though this might help stabilize the area, you still need to make sure that it is thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. The horse’s hooves should never be worked on by anyone who lacks the appropriate training and experience.

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