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cussion on hard surfaces can cause cracks, especially on front hooves. Damage from problems like white line disease can cause the hoof to separate from the underlying structures, resulting in excess pressure that can cause cracks and chipped areas. While most people equate


cracks with dry hooves, wet conditions can weaken hooves as well. Constant, wet/dry con- ditions, or wet/freezing condi- tions can be hard on hooves, causing expansion and contrac- tion of the hoof wall. Continu- ous wet causes the hoof material to expand and weaken. Moist hooves (perhaps those standing in wet snow or damp bedding) that are exposed to hard icy conditions may chip. Nutritional defi ciencies may


result in many fi ne cracks on the hoof. If nutritional defi ciencies are the problem, all four feet will be involved. Nutritional defi cits may also show up as slow growth, thin walls that easily chip, ridges that ring the hoof wall and other changes in the hoof structure that may not be apparent to the naked eye. How do you determine what is causing hoof cracks on your horse? If only one foot is af-


T is toe crack ultimately grew out, replaced by a normal healthy hoof. Time and balanced trim- ming is the best remedy for most hoof cracks.


fected, you can rule out dietary problems. If only the front hooves are involved, consider the footing and type of work your horse is exposed to, although rear hooves can be aff ected by cracks caused by this type of stress. If all four hooves are involved, you may wish to look at your feeding program, and how and how oſt en your horse is being trimmed. As with all horse “problems,” it’s important to ask why the problem is happening.


STEP ONE: BALANCE THE TRIMS Your fi rst step in your strategy to avoid hoof cracks is to be sure your horse is receiving bal-


anced trims on a schedule suited to his own hoof growth and conformation. T is may mean four weeks (or even less) for some horses and up to 12 weeks for others. Remember, hoof growth is an average of one inch per month—and it varies greatly among individuals. Your second step is


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T is horse had a signifi cant heel crack, but aſt er diligent proper hoof care and trim- ming, the crack has fi lled in, the frog is stronger and more sturdy.


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