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Horse Care and Comfort

Hoof cracks

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Well here we are again. I have yet another question. Guess that is why Monty put these forums here. :)
Sugar, my 9 year old Quarter horse, has some really nasty looking cracks in her front hooves. I have been told that Quarter horses are prone to these cracks and that they have thinner outer hoof walls than some other breeds. My farrier wants to put front shoes on her to try and help these cracks mend. The previous owner told me that his farrier said the cracks were just in the very outter wall and really nothing to worry to much about. So far the cracks start just below the coronet band but I am worried that they may crack all the way up and cause her pain or possible lameness. Is there a way to repair this problem?
Thanks and God bless.

Kicki -- Sweden
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed 350 lessons completed 400 lessons completed 450 lessons completed 500 lessons completed 550 lessons completed 600 lessons completed

Cracks can be a result of dry hooves, a less good confirmation of the legs, or uneven distribution of the weight.
I think depth is the bigger problem, since that can allow dirt and bacteria to reach inside the hoof wall. Either way, I don't think "ignoring" them is a good idea.
If they are shallow, sometimes you can file a "cut" across the top of them to prevent them from extending upwards and wait for the hoof to grow down. Mind you, that is work for a farrier!
Giving extra Biotin can improve hoof quality.
Keeping the coronet band soft with some (cod liver-, vegetable-)oil or Cosequin, which also aids in producing new hoof horn.
A friend, whose horse has had problem with cracked hooves all her life, was helped immensely by a treatment of infrared light + Cosequin.
The treatment went on for about 6 months. This was a couple of years ago, and she hasn't had cracks since then.
Good luck with Sugar!

Hello! 100 lessons completed

I personally think that no shoe is a good answer to your problem, and I kindly suggest you to consider the choice of going bare. The road to barefoot practice is not easy and you must be very convinced when you take it, but the results are much rewarding.
Be conscious that my suggestion does not meet Mr. Roberts’ approval (see his article “The advantage of going Bare”:, but many people in the world that put the horse’s needs first, just like he does, do not agree with him. I am one of them. On the Internet you will find all the information you need (,,,, etc.) and, should you decide to go bare, also find some professional practitioner of natural trimming near to your place.


If they are just surface cracks, they are called "sand cracks" this is a result of the horses hoof wall expanding with every step. If you shoe it would stop the expanding and let the hoof grow out. I would shoe for the first year or so. Feed a biotin rich feed like farriers formula or horseshoers secret. This will help the horn of the hoof grow and become stronger. The feet will grow faster and the wall will become thicker. I say do this for a year because it takes a normal horse a year to grow an entire hoof wall. If the cracks are up to the cornet band it could take that long. There is nothing wrong with shoeing your horse, if that is what you and your farrier decide to do.

julie m.
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed

Personally, I have never heard of anyone saying that Quarter Horses are prone to cracks. I think a horse gets prone to cracks if he is not trimmed on a good timetable for his set of hooves, and or he is missing something in his diet, thus causing the weakened hoof area.

I too am a barefoot advocate, but I do believe there are times when a horse should have shoes. It depends on the condition of his hooves (if he needs some extra support or correction to heal) or if he is in work on a surface that would indicate shoes.

Your best bet is to consult with a farrier, a barefoot trimmer, and your vet and to do research on your own so that you can make a good decision on how best to handle your horse's particular condition.

Good luck!

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed

I totally agree with Bruno and julie. Seek out and you will find much information and many good links. A horse, shod or not, cannot grow a good hoof with a bad diet - so I would look at what you are feeding your horse. Pastures may be defficient in minerals that the horse requires for good growth. Do not buy into the myth that you need shoes on to prevent cracks. With proper trim management and proper diet, a horses hoof wall can be strong and thick.

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed

Yeah is brilliant.I had a spanish mare with really tricky fronts that would crack with the clenches and it was hard to get her to hold a shoe .I used to fill the cracks with a mixture of sawdust mixed with two part glue called Araldite.It worked! and she stayed shod and eventually her feet became good.This was more than twenty years back so things luckily have changed a lot and I am now barefoot all the way.