Healthy hooves are the foundation of the best-performing horses. We can’t deny that hoof cracks in horses are a common, harsh reality. Hoof cracks can be of varying length and width depending on the cause. Criticality and prognosis depend on the site and size of the crack. So, can you ride a horse with a cracked hoof amid such complexities? We will discuss the home remedies available for solving cracked horse hooves.
What causes hoof cracks in horses?
Different breeds of horses have different genetic makeup, which results in a predisposition for cracked hooves in some stages of life. Nutrition also plays a very important role in the development and maintenance of healthy hooves throughout.
Some of the common factors that cause hoof cracks in horses are:
- Genetics- Some thoroughbreds are more likely to develop cracked hooves because of the lesser thickness of the hoof wall as compared to other breeds.
- Trauma- Lack of proper farrier works in hooves can cause injuries during light to heavy exercises. Repeated concussions or the work on hard surfaces would cause hoof injury.
- Lack of Moisture- It is one of the most common causes of brakes in between hooves. The hoof is a living tissue protected by a dead tissue compartment outside. It needs sufficient moisture to proliferate.
- Poor Foot Structure- Club foot, short or long heels, and clipped heel may be a reason for poor conformation and hoof cracks.
- Other Underlying Conditions- Hoof anomalies like infection in the laminar corium (living layer of the hoof) can cause walk abnormalities and hence result in hooves cracking.
Can You Ride a Horse With Cracked Hoof?
The answer is both ‘YES’ and ‘NO’. A farrier and a veterinarian after a complete hoof examination can assess the severity of the hoof damage.
Most of the hoof cracks in horses are superficial and cause little pain to horses. However, deep cracks can penetrate the living tissue and cause infection.
It will cause substantial harm to your horse if you ride a horse with a cracked hoof. The consequence would be chronic hoof ailment, unbalanced foot, and lameness.
You shouldn’t ride such horses on harsh terrains and sports or race grounds. If you do, then it would worsen their hoof condition.
There are some home remedies available to counter minor hoof cracks, primarily at home. These remedies, along with the regular inspection by the farrier, can out-turn in healing. You can also use therapeutic horse hoof boots to provide your horse support and stabilization for shorter rides.
Home Remedies For Cracked Horse Hooves
1. Coconut Oil to Lock Essential Moisture
It works nicely in small hoof cracks, as one of the major causes of cracking hoofs is lack of moisture. You can apply hydrating coconut oil once or twice a day.
2. Re-evaluate the Horse Nutrition
Excess carbohydrates in the diet cause laminitis in horses. Similarly, deficiencies of vitamins E, A, and D, and other minerals like zinc and biotin, play a significant role in diminishing hoof health.
3. Trimming of the Hoof
Fixing the cracked hoof requires a two-step process: stabilization of the hoof and crack growing out with the growing hoof. Trimming of the hoof reduces the extra pressure on hoof membranes, allowing them to heal and prevent further cracks.
4. Using Hoof Supplements
Sometimes, simply changing the diet doesn't produce the desired outcome. We have to provide the horse with additional hoof supplements for horses to aid in faster recovery.
5. Exercising Daily
Daily exercise is essential in making hooves stronger and growing muscles tougher.
Q 1- Are horse's hoof cracks painful?
Ans- Severe hoof cracks in horses can cause painful and stressful conditions. If hoof cracks do not heal, it can cause lameness in the horse.
Q 2- Is it okay to use coconut oil for a cracked hoof?
Ans- Coconut oil is rich in vitamins C and E, which help in locking the moisture. It also helps in the growth of the lost epidermis of the hoof.
Q 3- How long does it take a cracked hoof to heal?
Ans- The healing of a cracked hoof depends on the location and severity. The process of healing starts with the stabilization of the damaged hoof. The crack extended up to the coronary band may take a year to heal completely.
You shouldn’t be riding a horse with cracked hooves unless you get the hoof condition examined by a veterinarian. Hoof cracks can turn into serious ailment and you can’t compromise it for a horse’s performance. Moisten the minor cracks with the use of coconut oil, olive oil, or vaseline (take excess moisture into consideration, which can cause infection).
You may use horse's hoof boots to protect them from further damage and give them time to heal.
A healthy hoof is an overall indicator of a horse's health. Always check the horse’s hoof before heading for a ride.