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Cracks are symptoms of an imbalanced hoof situation. They will automatically grow out when the hoof starts to rehabilitate and changes its shape with the correct hoof treatment. The time period for this can vary greatly, depending on existing hoof deformations. Most cracks and splits are completely gone after the renewal of the hoof capsule, which takes about 11 months. If the coffin bone and its hoof continue to remodel after a year or the horse is forced to change the load on the limb due to accompanying factors (e.g., osteoarthritis, tendon damage), the process takes longer. Constant changes in the hoof capsule have an impact on the hoof mechanics, which must be permanently controlled by the hoof specialist. The crack cannot grow out if the hoof shape is not rehabilitated yet. If the hoof has concomitant circumstances like defects in the bone structure, crena, keratomas, or horn scars, then the journey can become challenging and long-lasting but not impossible. 

Case 1       Nora

Toe Wall Crack
toe wall crack left front hoof
right front hoof, lateral view
left front hoof, lateral view

6 months later:

right front hoof 6 months later
left front hoof 6 months later
right front 6 months later
left front 6 months later

Case 2    Tom Petty

toe wall split right front hoof
toe wall crack left front hoof

4 months later:

right front 4 months later
left front hoof 4 months later

7 months later:

right front 7 months later
left front 7 months later

Case 3       Rain


10 months later:



These toe cracks were very stubborn. Rain had been dealing with these cracks for years before I started. If a toe crack lingers on for such a long time, the coffin bone will be affected. A so-called 'crena' can develop, a notch in the coffin bone which makes it hard to treat a toe crack. A crena causes a gap in the connection between the hoof wall and bone. The missing white line must be replaced with epidermal lamellae.  A crena is specifically 'stubborn' if it occurs at the spot where the horse toes off, right there where the most pressure acts on the hoof when the horse pushes the hoof off the ground when walking. 

cracked hoof wall right front hoof
cracked hoof wall left front hoof
lateral view right front hoof

2 months later:

right front 2 months later
left front 2 months later
right front 2 months later

one year later:

right front 1 year later
left front 1 year later
right front lateral view 1 year later

Almost 2 years later:

right front almost 2 years later
right front 2 years later, after treatment
left front almost 2 years later, before
left front 2 years later, after treatment

The hoof situation we have achieved is most likely as good as can get due to the already existing bone defects the horse shows in both front feet. Both feet show a crena (red arrow). That area looks different than other parts of the suspensory apparatus of that hoof. The sole horn has an indentation, curved upwards because the margin of the coffin bone has atrophied at this point. The resulting gap is filled with scar horn and stretched epidermal lamellae. The sole, golden line and lamellar layer are no longer united in a healthy connection as they should be in a healthy suspensory apparatus (green arrow).

Case 4     Spanky

Quarter Crack 

Left Front. The crack completely separated the heel from the quarter wall. The solar picture shows the main load of that hoof to find the lateral, left in the picture. That heel is severely underrun, and the bulb is being pushed upward due to the load and compression whereas the other side can flee from the center of pressure. The heel wall on that side is more slanted, the bar leans onto the sole, and every horn part seems to be pushed to the side. 

Cause and effect

The flaring toe wall has completely lost its stability. The horn tubules are bent, and start to crack. If not addressed properly, the heels will be underrun even more. On the more loaded side, forces will collide. The Underrun heel being pushed inside rolls in while the quarter wall bulges out. The toe wall starts to bent and moves forward, the quarter wall will inability start to crack. In this case, the problem hadn't been addressed in months. The crack became worse and worse. 

quarter wall crack, heel wall separated
quarter crack, solar view
medial view, left front

Medial side, same hoof. We can see how the toe on that inner side is in the way, making it hard for the horse to break over. A second crack has developed in the toe right where forces collide again and work against each other. The quarter wall causes a huge lever to bulge up into the coronet. We see horizontal compression lines. That massive lever causes the horse to only use the lateral side with the heel crack even more. It cannot use the medial side at all.

Right Front. Two completely different deformed quarter walls. The main load of that hoof is lateral (left picture) as well. Therefore, the medial side is bulging out. The toe wall flares too but the hoof is in an overall better shape than the left one. The reason for that is simply that the horse has two different feet and different heel heights. This is the steeper, smaller hoof which has a better heel alignment by nature and is used less than the parallel flat foot. The heels are more stable than on the left foot. 

right front, lateral view
right front, medial view

Directly after treatment. Disturbing factors have been eliminated, the toe tubules will grow down in a proper orientation, and the horse will be able to use its toe better, ergo, the heel will rise and give the horse a more stable foundation.


left front hoof, right after 1. treatment
lateral view right front after treatment

right front

right front dorsal view after treatment
right front lateral view after treatment
IMG_3972 copy.jpeg
IMG_3970 copy.jpeg

The arrow indicates the change in hoof wall tubule angulation. The hoof has a long way to go to be completely restored. The crack will not grow out until the lever has completely been eliminated. Unfortunately, Spanky deals with a crena on each front hoof, right where he toes off. The radiographs show the existing damage. The resulting cracks will be an almost impossible mission to deal with. Too long has that problem been untreated. The bone reacts with atrophy and will spread the hoof wall tubules every time the horse breaks over that damaged part. 


5 months later:


The lateral heel (first picture) has become more stable. It can withstand the main load much better. The 3rd picture (solar view) shows that as well. The hoof shape has changed, and the bulbs are more even because the lateral heel can take more load now. The hoof becomes rounder.

The coronet (2nd picture, medial view) is even. A load of that whole limb can be distributed more evenly on the hoof. That will influence the horse's biomechanics; Spanky can use his feet differently now. 

The arrow shows how deep the damage of the crena is, gashing deeply into the sole.

Right Front:

The coronet is even but that lateral side is still heavily loaded, and the heel is still not aligned with the toe. 
The lever grows out (arrow).


Case 5       Kivi

Crack/Crena in hind foot

IMG_2527 copy.HEIC
IMG_2526 copy.HEIC

5 months later:

IMG_3375 copy.HEIC
IMG_3376 copy.HEIC
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