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September 27, 2008 | | Comments 0

Sand Cracks – Common Hoof Problems

Sand Cracks in Horse Hoof

Sand Cracks in Horse Hoof

Common Hoof Problems: Sand Cracks

Sand cracks are vertical cracks in the hoof and can cause a number of problems to the horse. If left untreated, your horse may experience discomfort and perform poorly. Let’s talk more about sand cracks and what you can do about them.

Causes of Sand Cracks in Horse Hooves

Sand cracks can be caused by a number of things. One cause is faulty conformation. When the horn is brittle and the wall of the inner quarter is thinner compared to the outer quarter’s wall, sand cracks tend to develop. A contributing factor is the extra weight enforced. Fracture eventually occurs. Fracture can occur in many ways. It can be caused by excessive work labor throughout the day, dry ground, rocky/stony ground and unbalanced distribution of weight. Furthermore, fracture can occur due to accidents that may arise while two animals are working as a pair or the horse injures itself. Then again, improper shoeing can also cause sand cracks. All horses have the risk of getting sand cracks, however, it seems heavier animals are most affected with the disorder, especially in the hind-foot.

Symptoms of Sand Cracks in Horse Hooves

Typically a fissure in the horn is said to be the only sign of the disorder. Even then, you may not realize your horse’s disorder because mud, tar, wax, putty, ointments or gutta-percha may cover symptoms. Sand cracks sometimes develop on the internal face of the wall, entailing its entire thickness apart from a thin layer on the outer surface. With this you may notice a minor depression, which starts by the coronary band and through to the horny fibers. As time passes sand cracks lengthens downwards as well as grow deeper. In many cases, especially in toe cracks, the horn on the edges of the fissure loses its strength and sloughs off. Sometimes a discharge is released from the crack and fungal growth may occur at the opening (especially with a quarter crack). In severe cases, inflammation and lameness may occur. Lameness caused by sand cracks can irritate a horse after some time.

Treatment of Sand Cracks in Horse Hooves

Minor sand cracks are often highly treatable. So if you notice symptoms, it’s best to treat them early on. The cracks may grow out, however, it may take a long time and if the condition is severe (lameness), you may have to rest your horse completely until the cracks heal. Treatment often runs anywhere from 6 months to a year. The first thing you should do is inspect your horse’s hooves (especially front hooves) and see if there are small lines at the edge of your horse’s toes. These lines do progress in time as your horse’s weight puts strain on the toes. Have your horse inspected by a dependable farrier and start fixing your horse’s environment by eliminating rocks from the pasture. Another solution is to shoe your horse. Your farrier will likely employ toe and quarter clips to the shoes. This prevents cracks from progressing. For preventative measures, make sure your horse’s hooves are kept moist. An affordable way to do this is by having your horse stand in mud for 10 to 15 minutes each day.

Of course, the best “treatment” is prevention. Make sure your horse is checked by the vet regularly. If you are unsure of the symptoms, ask your vet about sand cracks and have your horse diagnosed properly.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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