When a person wears the same pair of shoes for a long period of time, parts of the shoes wear out more than others based on how the person walks and distributes his or her weight. Once shoes wear out, the feet are not properly supported. This scenario is also true for horseshoes and hooves.
When hooves aren’t trimmed properly or horseshoes don’t fit correctly, horses distribute their weight unevenly, and land on their feet differently. If they put excessive force and stress on one area of the hoof wall, it can cause a vertical crack, otherwise known as a Quarter Crack. It’s important that farriers trim and manage horse hooves so that horses distribute their weight evenly across each foot.
While some horses can be genetically predisposed to Quarter Cracks, they often happen because hooves are not being properly trimmed. When hooves are not well maintained, the horse strikes the same area every time it bears weight, causing stress on one quarter of the hoof wall. This usually happens at the widest point of the hoof wall between the toe and the heel where pressure is built-up from uneven weight distribution.
There are different causes and symptoms that can be identified before a Quarter Crack occurs. Some examples include:
– Long Toes: Often times owners and farriers are afraid to trim a foot too much, and the heel grows forward towards the toe and underneath the foot. When this happens, the horse’s foot is not flat on the ground. A photo of a horse with a long toe is pictured on the right.
– Heels: Heels grow at an angle. As seen in the image of the horse with the long toe, the angle continues under the foot because it is not trimmed. As the heel grows under the foot, it effects how the horse bears its weight. As the coronary band (where the hoof and hairline meet) bends down into the hoof, the hoof wall will eventually crack to relive the pressure. A photo of a healthy, trimmed hoof is pictured on the right.
– Uneven Hairline: If a horse distributes its weight unevenly, the hairline above the hoofwall becomes uneven. If you notice that a horse is lame and the hairline is crooked, that usually means its weight is being distributing unevenly. On a balanced hoof, the hairline is straight.
Often times, a horse becomes lame when it has a Quarter Crack, and it can become very lame if the condition is not treated.
First and foremost, it’s important to decipher what caused the Quarter Crack in the first place. Is it because the horse’s toe is too long? Is the horse’s weight being distributed evenly? Is the horse striking in the same place repetitively during a racing competition?
It’s important to figure out what causes the cracking in the hoof wall because the condition will never go away if the foot isn’t balanced properly. A horse needs to distribute its weight evenly so that it can land on its feet without putting stress on the hoof wall. A farrier should be able to measure and decide if the toe is too long and trim the feet as needed.
When a horse is diagnosed with a Quarter Crack, it’s important to apply support to its hooves. Vettec Equi-Pak and Equi-Build are supportive pour-in pad materials that work well for this issue. Equi-Pak can be injected under a pad, or used as a pad itself since it bonds well to the sole and frog.
Equi-Build is beneficial as it serves as a firm pad material that distributes a horse’s weight across the entire hoof-bottom. Since the horse needs to relieve pressure around the Quarter Crack, this material is key to providing the horse relief.
Depending on the severity of the Quarter Crack, there are materials that can help close the cracked area. If it appears to be an exposed wound, it’s important that the area is cleaned and left uncovered to heal, and treated by a hoof care professional or veterinarian.
The feet support a horse’s entire body weight. If its weight is not distributed evenly, it can cause injury and cracking to the hooves. With proper trimming and pour-in pads for support, a horse will be able to stand evenly and bear weight comfortably.
Whether a horse is or isn’t active, it’s important that a farrier is managing and trimming a horse’s hooves consistently. As humans need new shoes for proper support every so often, horses need that treatment as well. Whether preventing or managing Quarter Cracks, trimming and pour-in pad materials can provide the support and durable protection needed to heal properly. With today’s modern tools and materials, farriers can help horses maintain healthy hoof function more than ever before.