Hoof cracks

Veterinary advice should be sought before applying any treatment or vaccine.

Hoof Cracks

Quarter Cracks, Sand Cracks, Grass Cracks

Horses can develop a variety of different types of cracks that can occur in their hooves. The specific type of hoof wall crack is named based on its length (complete or incomplete), depth (superficial or deep), site of origin (ground surface or coronary band), location (toe, heel, quarter or bar), and whether an infection or hemorrhage is apparent.
  • Complete cracks: Cracks which extend the full length of the hoof, from ground surface to coronary band or vice versa.
  • Incomplete crack: Cracks which do not extend from end to end of the hoof. These types of cracks rarely cause lameness, unless there is a secondary infection present.
  • Sand cracks: These refer to cracks which originate from the coronary band.
  • Grass cracks: These types of cracks originate from the ground surface of the hoof.
Hoof cracks often occur due to a multitude of factors, often in combination, which can include:
  • Excessive hoof growth: Usually resulting from extended length of time between farrier visits.
  • Environment: Excessively wet or dry conditions
  • Nutritional deficiencies: Biotin, Amino acids, Selenium
  • Genetics: Some horses are more prone to hoof problems than others.
  • Improperly balanced hoof: This is usually the result of the work resulting from a poor quality or inexperienced farrier.
The type of treatment prescribed depends on the extend and type of the crack and whether an infection and/or lameness is present.


Obvious cracking of the hoof wall
Local discharge


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiography



Immobilization of the crack
Oral administration of biotin and methionine in feed
Application of hoof oils to improve quality of hooves
Change farriers or discuss different shoeing techniques with veterinarian
Hoof binding resins, prosthetic repair, and acrylics after debridement and elimination of any deep-seated infection that might be present.
Partial hoof wall resection may be needed
  • Keeping regular appointments with farrier
  • Avoiding overdue/overgrown hoof wall
  • Precautions to avoid lost shoes in field (bell boots, avoiding turnout in mud or deep footing, daily checking for loose nails).
  • Practicing regular hoof care, especially during excessive environmental conditions such as periods of chronically wet or dry weather
  • Horses with naturally brittle feet should be supplemented with biotin and methionine and/or regular application of hoof oil


Favorable for most but in many cases the cracks recur and recurrent lameness and infections are common.

Scientific Research

General Overviews

  • sandcracks icon
  • sandcracks icon
  • sandcracks icon
  • sandcracks icon
  • sandcracks icon
  •  icon
  •  icon
  •  icon

Risk Factors

  • Overdue for shoeing
  • Poor hoof balance
  • Dry, poor quality horn
  • Hoof defects
  • Excessively wet or dry environmental conditions
  • Possible genetic predisposition
  • Nutrient deficiency

Horse Case Stories