hoof cracks


Horizontal hoof cracks


Yesterday, your horse’s hoof looked and felt totally normal. Today, he has a horizontal hoof crack that literally appeared out of nowhere. Should you panic? NO. Should you have a plan? YES.  Hoof cracks are caused by many different things – and it’s always a good idea to decipher what possible causes are.  Then you can proceed with a treatment plan. 


Short and entertaining (?) video about horse hooves and the trouble they can get into.


What causes horizontal hoof cracks in horses?


  • Horizontal hoof cracks are alarming, but typically nothing to worry about. They are usually caused by a trauma to the coronary band or a bang to the hoof wall.  There may also be underlying hoof disease that contributes to pockets of the hoof wall losing structure.


  • It’s also suspected that some horizontal hoof cracks are the result of an abscess that ruptures at the coronary band, and the crack grows out with the hoof. These abscesses that move upwards and pop out are called “gravel.”  


  • At any rate, these horizontal hoof cracks rarely cause lameness in horses. My horse had one, as seen below, and he was quite the drama queen about it.  As the hoof was growing out, I did not know there was a hollow spot in the hoof wall.  Because the hoof does flex a bit, the hollow spot popped open.  This particular crack opened about halfway down. 


  • Any opening in your horse’s hoof, including a benign and non-painful horizontal crack, can get packed with mud, bacteria, manure, and other odor-causing petri dish ingredients. 


Your plan of action


  • Depending on the location of the crack, it may need to be opened up for cleaning and white-line disease prevention. 


horizontal hoof crack that has opened

Boy did this one smell a bit.  The lower flap trims away to allow air into the area, and also some thrush meds to keep white line disease away.


Have your veterinarian check these cracks out, just in case.


  • The hoof is a dynamic structure, that will flex and bend and move. A crack, horizontal or vertical, will make the hoof wall unstable, and the area will move quite a bit. This can, and will, affect underlying structures.


  • I know that some of you are wondering why I would call a veterinarian before the farrier, and it’s simple. Veterinarians work on the inner, soft tissue structures of a hoof, farriers are not. When you have any type of hoof crack, there is a chance that soft tissue will be affected, even without lameness. Also, vets have pain meds and x-ray machines just in case.


  •  Simple x-rays tell your vet if the crack is a result of something larger going on – like a giant white line infection that goes further than the crack.  Resection of the hoof may be needed in severe cases. 

Products to try


  • Use hoof soaking products, like CleanTrax, or the purple or green thrush meds on the crack as a preventative.  Podi-gel and White Lightening are goopy gel forms that tend to stick not run down the hoof or your hands.  


  • If your horse tends to forge or interfere, using bell boots can help protect their hoof wall from knocks that may contribute to creating an abscess. 


hoof wrap on a horse hoof

You may want to cover the hoof with a wrap or boot if the crack wants to become a cave for smelly stuff.


It’s up to your veterinarian and farrier as to how to proceed with a horizontal hoof crack. Luckily, they are often easy to treat and require no time off, but always remember that phrase about “no hoof, no horse”!

go shopping button for horse products

Go shopping!

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The best-known hoof supplement


Hoof and joint supplement

The gold standard in hoof dressings

AniMed hoof Supplement


Durasole – for hoof hardening


CleanTrax helps with white line disease and hoof infections.


White Lightning for hoof infections in a soaking kit


White Lightning Gel

Hoof clay.

Another type of hoof clay.

SteriHoof Spray for thrush and white line

Magic Cushion takes the sting out of hooves

Ichthammol salve for wounds and hoof issues.


Bright green salt poultice for hooves.


These ice packs make for easy cooling of your horse’s legs and hooves. They last for hours.

This tall boot can be filled with ice or ice packs to help the horse with laminitis.


These affordable boots can be filled with ice to help your horse.



Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Black – thick-soled hoof boot for riding and hoof wrapping.

EasyCare Easyboot Glove Soft Hoof Boot – these boots are designed for riding, not hoof packing, and have a more precise fit.


These Cloud boots are great for the horse that needs extra cushion, like the horse with laminitis


Hoof Wraps Easy Soaker with pads



Hoof Wraps Brand Bandage – Affordable wrap for hoof protection


Good reading if the hoof is fascinating to you!


Thank you!