Treating split hoof walls on a horse can be a simple as having a competent farrier trim the horse’s hooves regularly. In some cases, special shoeing or other forms of protection may be necessary to protect the hoof from further damage. The best method to treat split hoof walls depends on the location and the severity of the split.
Splits in the hoof wall that travel into the coronet band at the top of the hoof are especially problematic since the hoof grows from the coronet band. With this type of split, the growth is halted at the coronet and likely will not ever be able to be fully repaired. A split or crack that has not reached up to the coronet may have its upward progress halted by cauterizing, pinning, or similar methods.
Dry climates can cause a brittle hoof. Brittle hooves tend to crack. These cracks can lead to a split in the hoof wall. In this case prevention is worth the proverbial pound of cure. Good hoof oil or other appropriate moisturizer should be applied regularly to protect the hoof in extremely dry conditions.
The strength and general condition of the hoof walls on a horse are directly related to the animal’s overall health. Horses, just like people, need to be healthy from the inside out. If cracks and splits are visible with no discernible cause, a supplement for hoof health may be necessary. Certainly, if an entire herd of horses are showing hoof or foot problems, such as split hoof walls, a change in diet is indicated.
Even once corrective action has been taken to improve split hoof walls, special shoeing may be required to protect the hoof from further damage during healing. Specially formed shoes, patches over the split to strengthen the area and other methods may be used to lessen the pressure on hoof walls to give them a chance to heal. A degree of patience is also required as the hoof wall may take months to regenerate.
The advice of a good veterinarian and/or farrier is certainly indicated for any horse with split hoof walls. A horse with foot problems is a huge concern whether the owner is an occasional rider or has multiple working animals. The proper treatment should be decided on a case by case basis.
In all cases, the single most important thing a horse owner can do is to provide consistent care, and caregivers for his or her animal(s). Have the horse’s hooves trimmed on a regular schedule. Ensure the horse’s nutritional needs are being met. When the farrier, the vet, and the primary caregiver regularly spend time with a horse, these individuals will be more likely to notice small changes in the horse. Conditions such as split hoof walls that could have been easily avoided by more frequent trimming won’t have the chance to occur.