November 2011 Archives


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Canker 2.jpgCanker is the development of a chronic hypertrophy of the horn-producing tissues. It usually generates in the frog but can diffuse and invade the adjacent sole, bars and hoof wall. Canker is commonly seen in draft horses but it is possible to be found in any breed and any gender of horse. It can also occur in one or multiple of the horses feet at one time. A wet environment or moist unhygienic conidtions have been said to act as a stimulus for this disease. In the early stages of Canker there may be a focal area of granualtion tissue in the frog that bleeds easily when abraded.


horse with canker.jpgNumerous finger-like pappilae of soft off-white material that resembles cauliflower is what Canker is described as. A foul odor is frequently present in most cases but not always, and is covered in a caseous white exudate that resembles cottage cheese. The severity of lameness in a horse with Canker does vary depending on the depth of the infection and how bad it really is. In order to treat Canker, careful and thorough debridement of the infected tissue is necessary followed by topical treatments applied everyday until the disease is totally gone. In order to debride the affected area, the horse is put under anesthesia while the loose exfoliating sole is removed.


Sand Cracks

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Sand Cracks are defined as vertical cracks on the hoof. They develop often when a horse has poor conformation, and the wall of the inner quarter is thinner than the outer quarter. Many horses have the risk of acquiring sand cracks, but usually heavier horses are most effected. Sand cracks sometimes develop on the inner face of the hoof wall in which case identification of the disorder can be difficult. Beginning development of sand cracks may start around the coronary band and gradually extend downward. More severe cases might let out a discharge from the crack and inflammation in the foot can occur. Sand Cracks may cause the horse discomfort, especially if the horse continues intense work or has the chance of stepping on hard surfaces in pasture such as rocks.
sand cracks pic.jpgSand-Crack-Clamp.jpg
This disorder is treatable, and preventable. Treatment of a case of sand cracks would include filing the hoof around the crack, keeping the hoof moist, having your horse stand in mud, or shoeing the horse with quarter clips or a sand crack clamp. Preventing sand cracks is easier, by providing a rock free pasture and having a farrier regularly check your horses feet. 

Dropped Sole

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Dropped Sole is when the arch of the horse's hoof builds up and then becomes flat against the hoof wall or it can curve outwards away from the hoof wall. Now the horse is required to put pressure on just the sole of the foot rather than the hoof wall and the frog. Most mature horses have parts of their hooves that are dropped, but serious dropping of the hooves is caused by damage to the sole, wall, and soft tissues. There are many causes of dropped sole including laminitis, founder, or a dropped coffin bone. Dropped sole can be very painful for the horse, as the sole is not meant to hold the weight of the animal. Many horses will try to relieve some of the pain by leaving back onto their heals. 


Both of the pictures above are what the hooves will look like when dropped sole is present. You can see the sole pushing away from the wall and the frog is enveloped by the surrounding sole. In the picture on the right you can see the sole pushing against the ground.

Returning a dropped sole back to normal will require the regular attention of a ferrier to return the hoof back to its normal shape. If there is an underlying cause like founder or laminitis, these ailments must also be adressed so that the sole can return to normal. As well as taking direct care of the hooves, the horse must also be fed well and have the nutrients that support healthy hoof growth (there are also many hoof supplements on the market that are to help with hoof growth). Sole support may be provided to help with the pain caused by this issue. This can include packing the hoof or a hoof boot to provide support and cushioning for the sole. 


The picture on the right is an example of a type of boot that can be glued onto the horse's hoof to relieve pressure on the sole. The picture on the left is the common way horses will stand to take pressure off their soles by leaning backwards onto their heals.


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What is Coronitis?
Coronitis is defined as an inflammation of the coronary band. This condition can be chronic or acute; the chronic condition is usually caused by an autoimmune disease known as 'pemphigus', where the body rejects its own tissues, targeting the skin and mucous membranes. The acute form of coronitis is due to either injury or bruising to the coronary band and underlying tissue, and is usually self-inflicted by the horse when shod. When the band is struck by the shoe on the opposite hoof, this is known as 'tread', and is commonly seen in horses worked in a two-horse team, as they can be injured either by their own shoes, or by their hitch mate's.  The coronitis condition known as 'overreach' is caused by the hoof on the same side striking the fore heel. Overreach tends to happen at the gallop or when a horse is a fast trotter or when a horse has a lot of action in their hind end.DSCF8206.jpg

Symptoms and Treatment
Sometimes the horse doesn't have an open wound at the coronary band, but swelling is visible, either on only one side or extending throughout the entire coronary band. The area will be hot and tender, and the horse will be lame, sometimes only setting their toe on the ground. In cases caused by injury, the hoof should be washed with warm water with soap, then rinsed in cold water, then soaked in an antiseptic bath. Overreach boots can be used to prevent future injury. In certain cases, coronitis could be caused by an infection, which will result in the swollen, sore skin becoming first gray, then black, and often oozing pus and accompanied by a fever. In cases of severe infection, the skin will die and slough off, leaving an open wound. In cases where the skin sloughs off, symptoms will typically go away once the dead tissue is gone. In cases of coronitis caused by pemphigus, horn production is altered and hoof quality declines. The hoof will lose its shine and will become flaky. The legs may also become swollen and hot to the touch, resulting is stiff, painful movement,  The horse will be lethargic and depressed with appetite loss leading to weight loss. Treatment for this type of coronitis is typically immune-suppressing drugs (often required in risky, high doses) and non-steroidal drugs (such as a 'gold salts injection'. Horses that are diagnosed at a young age usually have a better chance of successful treatment than older horses.

Reeks, H. Caulton. Diseases of the Horse's Foot. London: Baillière, Tindall and Cox, 1906. Front Range Frenzy. 2008. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <>.*

Knottenbelt, Derek, BVM&S, DVM&S, FACVSc. "Pemphigus: The Body Under Attack." Hoofcare & Lameness 77: 17-21. Hoofcare & Lameness. Hoofcare Publishing. Web. 12 Nov. 2011. <>.

*Although this source is more than a century old, the information is still accurate and relevant today.

A horse suffering from the pemphigus condition, which also causes hair loss.


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Quittor is the death of the sidebones of the foot.  This disease is now uncommon and would occur frequently in draft horses.  It usually affects the front feet rather than the hind.

What is the Cause of Quittor?
Collateral cartilage in the hoof has a poor blood supply; thus, when infected the infection can become chronic and very detrimental.  This often occurred in draft horses.  When they plowed they would step or tread on the feet of the horse next to them.  These draft horses often wore large caulks on their shoes for plowing.  These caulks would result in the injury to the skin over the coronary band when they stepped on the horse next to them.  In turn, this would lead to infection in the cartilages.  This condition can still be occasionally seen today from external trauma to the foot.

The most obvious way quittor is diagnosed is by a discharging wound that develops on the inside or outside of the hoof over the collateral cartilages.  The area is often warm, swollen, and painful.  A number of tiny discharging holes may also be found in the pastern.  Lameness can be caused. However, it usually subsides with the healing process.  Long term cases may result in the deformity of the hoof wall.  Radiographic examination of the foot may reveal necrosis of the sidebones or gas shadows.  

Cases are usually treated by topical and systemic antibiotics.  Sometimes, it may even be necessary to surgically remove the dead and infected material.  The wound can then be packed and the foot bandaged.  
In extreme cases, a section of the hoof wall may need to be removed and holes drilled in the hoof to allow the area to drain.  

Shown below is a picture of a horse with hyperplasia of the right fore foot due to chronic quittor.  

Hoof Abscess

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A Hoof Abscess is a bacterial infection in the sensitive areas of the hoof often happening in the wall of the hoof. Since the walls of the hoof are unable to flex it causes the horse tremendous pain and sometimes splitting the hoof wall. Several causes of this can be an accumulation of bacteria in the horses hoof, a sharp object being stepped on by the horse, or damage to the corium of the hoof due to not getting enough blood. They can start from a crack in the hoof or from deep bruising.

Thumbnail image for Siete Abscess.jpg

Symptoms of an abscess begin with recognizing a lame horse, The horse will put as little weight as possible on the limb/hoof with the abscess. There will be increased temperatures in the limb and hoof of the infected area along with swelling of the leg. Various ways can be used to treat a hoof abscess. Best is to contact a veterinarian to help assist in which treatment is best for the horse. It is common for people to place there horse's foot in some type of protective boot to help keep the abscess clean and heal faster. A hole is often drilled in the hoof to allow drainage of the pus due to the bacterial infection, The most important part of caring for a horse with this condition is to keep the hoof as clean as possible at all times, especially the area around the hole if you have drilled one. It is very common to apply a poultice to the sole of the hoof to draw the bacterial infection out of the hoof. The best thing to do to prevent hoof abscesses is to regularly have the horses hooves trimmed by a farrier. It is also best if controllable to avoid extremely wet or dry conditions and take care of your stall regularly.

Dropped Sole

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Simply put, a horse has a dropped sole when the arch of the sole collapses and becomes flat or convex rather than concave.  When the sole is crushed, it pushes down past the hoof walls and causes the horse to put pressure and force on the sole rather than the hoof wall and frog.  A horse with dropped soles may be reluctant to move and/or may stand in the rocking horse stance to relieve pain; the sensitive soft tissue between the coffin bone and the keratinized (hard) sole becomes bruised and the hoof is unbalanced as the horse moves.  This is more noticeable when the horse is worked over hard or rocky ground.


sole buldge[1].jpg

dropped sole 1.JPG














Both of these pictures are examples of how a dropped sole may manifest itself.  On the left is a horse whose sole has grown down past the hoof wall after not being trimmed by a farrier.  On the right is a horse with laminitis; the coffin bone is pushing the sole out and causing the horse to be flat-footed.


A dropped sole is a sign of serious internal injury or mechanical damage to the hoof.  Improper shoeing, poor hoof confirmation, lack of trimming, and poor hoof horn quality will predispose a horse to developing dropped soles because the growing hoof does not grow into the correct concave shape and/or is not maintained to keep the ideal shape.  Dropped soles may be the result of internal hoof problems as well.  A horse may develop dropped soles in conjunction with laminitis as the coffin bone, and possibly other bones in the hoof and lower leg, rotate and slide down.  This puts a great amount of pressure on the sole and pushes it outward.  A chronic laminitis treatment process called grooving--where vertical grooves are cut into the hoof wall--may also cause dropped soles in some horses.


laminitis stance.JPG

The classic laminitis stance--where the horse "rocks back" on its hindfeet to take pressure off the forefeet--is also associated with dropped heels for similar reasons.


Treatment of dropped soles relies on the work of a good farrier and good management on the owner's part.  The hoof must be returned to its proper shape through months of corrective trimming and shoeing.  The horse must receive proper nutrition and foot care so that healthy, new hoof growth can replace the damaged or incorrect hoof.  The exact amount of time depends on the degree of damage and the horse's natural rate of growth.  If a horse remains in pain during this process or doesn't have access to soft pasture, hoof pads and shoes may be necessary to cushion the sensitive hoof.  Brush-on hoof conditioners or moisturizers may also be helpful to promote healthy hoof growth.

Club Foot

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The club foot results from a problem with the flexor muscle and tendons, in which the muscle receives a continuous signal to contract. The angle of the foot will be at least 60 degrees, rather than the average 45 degrees. Therefore, the hoof has a much steeper angle than normal; however, it is not simply due to upright pasterns. The condition can often be diagnosed in young horses and is the result of genetics or dietary problems that affect limb growth. Older horses may also develop the condition as the result of an injury.

The treatment of the condition depends on the severity. Methods of treatment include medication to relieve the pain, corrective shoeing, and surgery. Lowering the heel and extending the toe will help improve the angle of the hoof. A surgical release of tendons may be necessary in more severe cases.

This picture, although a simple drawing, shows the club foot in comparison to the ideal and flared foot. The symptoms of this condition can often be readily observed as the steepness of the heal and a narrow toe.

club foot 1.jpg

clubfoot3.jpg This image is very small, but if you look closely, you can see that the left front is a club foot (apparently grade 3).

References/more information


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A keratoma is a mild tumor that is composed of horn-producing cells.  In humans, these cells are what make up calluses that can form on the hands and feet.  In horses, however, these cells normally form the hard hoof capsule that encloses the internal structures of the foot.  These cells are located along the coronary band at the top of the hoof wall and continuously grow downwards similar to that of the human fingernail as it would grow from the cuticle.  These cells are the only living cells that create hoof capsule besides the cells that make up the sole; all the other cells that make up the hard hoof surface are dead and no longer able to divide.


p1040744n.jpgWhen the normal process of the production of these cells is altered, it may create an abnormal mass of cells that constantly continue growing between the outer part of the hoof capsule and the pedal bone.  This mass has a core composed entirely of keratin, the same protein that composes human hair.  There is no specific aspect that is known to cause a keratoma.  Horses usually show a mild lameness that gradually gets worse when a keratoma is present.  An abnormal shape along the sole or hoof wall is another sign.  Keratomas are normally circular in shape, so they would create a bulging effect in the hoof wall.  They can range in size anywhere from 0.5 centinmeters to 2 centimeters in diameter.  X-rays or MRIs can be used to diagnose a keratoma and can also see the magnitude of the damage and help figure the best direction for treatment.  Keratomas are treated best when they are removed completely.  However, the method of surgery also needs to be determined.  Depending on the location of the keratoma, a horse can be placed under sedation while standing with local anesthesia placed around the site of the keratoma, or the general anaesthetic method of srugery will be needed.


Hoof abscesses

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Hoof abscesses, or bacteria and pus-filled pockets in the hoof, occur when the solar surface of the hoof is somehow compromised. It usually forms a barrier to bacterial entry, but if punctured, exposed to excessive wetness, inaccurately trimmed, or otherwise harmed, bacteria can enter the hoof.

abscess close up.jpg
For bacteria, the hoof is an ideal location for feeding and growth. According to Horse Channel, under the protective barrier the hard lamina provides, it is warm and moist, and there is amply food supply from the blood running through the hoof. The bacteria feed and grow, producing toxins that eat away at the hoof tissues. A "tract" or pocket forms to accommodate the growing bacteria colony, and  as the horse's white blood cells flock to the area to attack the bacteria (inflammation), the pressure in the pocket builds. This pressure makes it very uncomfortable for the horse to put weight on the hoof. To treat the horse, and relieve its pain immediately, the abscess must be drained. The fluid that drains is pus, or purulent material. The opening has to be kept very clean and dry after draining, so it is often packed with gauze, covered in duct tape, or encased in a boot, or a combination of these methods.   

another abscess.jpg
The mare below was an unfortunate victim of someone who pretended to be a certified farrier who could treat her abscess, but did not. The owner of the horse eventually was forced to hand her over to the British animal protection agency, as she was clearly unable to bear weight on her foot and needed medical attention. Holding a hoof aloft is often a sign that there is a problem with the hoof. If the horse started doing this suddenly, there is a good chance that it is an abscess, because the horse doesn't feel the bacteria eating away at the insensitive hoof tissue. The pain only manifests when the bacteria reach the sensitive tissue.

Thumbnail image for mare with abscess.jpgVeterinarians are often relieved when an abscess is the cause of lameness, because it is a very treatable condition. In bad cases, antibiotics can be administered to help the horse's body fight the infection, and most times draining the fluid immediately relieves the pain. However, abscesses are also very preventable, and good management policies should include keeping facilities dry and free of sharp objects that could puncture hooves, regular cleaning of the hooves, and employing only competent farriers to trim hooves.

Pedal Osteitis

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     Pedal Osteitis is the inflammation of the coffin bone. It is common in performance horses who work on hard tracks. It is characterized by a shuffling action of the front hooves as well as general discomfort in the hoof region. Hoof testers as well as radiography is used to diagnose this condition. Radiographs will show irregular bone information around the toe and solar margin from the constant inflammation that affects the blood vessels in the hoof. It often occurs in the front feet of the horse due to the fact that 60 percent of the horses weight is on its front end. It is characterized by  This inflammation causes pain in the hoof and can cause lameness. There are two types of pedal osteitis. The first type is non-septic pedal oseitis which occurs from chronic sole bruising that can occur from concussion while exercising on hard surfaces. This can also occur from improper shoeing or conformation defects that cause the horse to have improper weight bearing on the sole of their hoof. The coffin bone is actually injured because of this and along with the inflammation in the hoof, demineralization of the coffin bone can occur as well.The other form of pedal osteitis is septic pedal osteitis. This form is actually caused by a pathogen that infects the hoof and coffin bone.

      The main symptom of pedal osteitis is pain and sensitivity in the hoof. While, as stated earlier, it usually occurs in the front hooves, it can also occur in the hind hooves as well. Owners will often notice that especially after exercise there is a stilted action of the front feet. The most common treatment for pedal osteitis is prolonged rest. By allowing the horse to rest, the inflammation will be able to subside. Detecting pedal osteitis early is essential in order to prevent it from progressing too far. It is usually necessary for a farrier to fit your horse with a shoe that will prevent bruising of the sole and that can add more cushioning for the hoof. Medical treatment is used to reduce inflammation with anti-inflammatory medication. However, because septic pedal osteitis is an infection from a pathogen, it requires a more extensive treatment which often involves surgery.


Sand Cracks

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Sand Cracks are cracks in the hoof that run vertically. Symptoms of sand cracks can be severe because they could form on the internal part of the wall. There could be inflammation in the hoof or your horse may appear to me shifting its weight on other legs. Your horse can looked depressed due to pain. Causes of sand cracks can be a weak hoof wall, a fracture, too much work on the horse, or even if you mess up while putting a shoe on the hoof. 

sand crack.jpg

There really isn't a good external picture of sand cracks but if you want to take of this youtube video it shows you the treatment of sand cracks. I recommend starting it at 1:35 so you can just jump right to the sand crack:

toe crack.JPG

Treatment of sand cracks can be anywhere to 6 months to 12 months.The basic treatment is to sand off the sides and do this until the crack is gone (this is what takes so long). If you want to prevent these cracks in the hoofs the best way is to keep your horse's hoofs moist. Mud, water, and creams. You also may want to make sure there is not anything hard in the pasture that the horse can step on and cause the hoof to crack.


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ringbone diagram.JPG
What is Ringbone?
Ringbone in the equine hoof is a growth on the bone on the pastern or coffin joint. Sometimes, the severity of the growth can grow so large and encircle the bone, which gives it its name. The type of ringbone can be determined by its location. If it is occurring on the lower region of the large pastern bone or the upper part of the small pastern bone, this is said to be "high ringbone." "Low ringbone" occurs on the lower part of the small pastern bone or the upper part of the coffin bone.  In high ringbone, it is much easier to detect because low ringbone occurs in the hoof. However, low ringbone can be easily detected if the growth has become so large that it creates a bony bump on the coronet of the horse.

What causes Ringbone?
  • Poor shoeing or conformation
  • Excessive stress on tendons, ligaments, and joint capsules of pastern area that can cause periosteum strain. 
  • Strain on the extensor tendon, the superficial digital flexor tendon, the collateral ligaments, and the distal sesamoidean ligaments. 
  • Osteoarthritis of the pastern and coffin joint is a common cause of articular ringbone

What are the symptoms of ringbone?

  • Usually in the front legs of older horses going through extensive training.
  • One leg is usually more affected with ringbone than the other.
  • In high ringbone the pastern will have less mobility and will show pain when the pastern is moved or rotated. Early cases of this will have low lameness scores, but as ringbone progresses so does lameness. In the early cases sometimes ringbone can be felt by palpation when compared to opposite pastern.
  • In low ringbone lameness will be moderate in early stages. In the more advanced stages of this the bony growth will be able be seen on the coronet.

ringbone close up.jpg

What are treatments of Ringbone? 

There are many treatments of ringbone, however, ringbone is degenerative unless caused by trauma. Although there are many ways of treatment, it does not cure ringbone. The treatments merely slow down the progress of the bony growths and alleviates the horse's pain, which include:

  • Proper shoeing
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to help alleviate the horse's pain.
  • Joint injections directly at the pastern joint 
  • Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy, which is a highly intensive percussion device that can help remodel new bone and help with pain.

ringbone stance.jpg


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quittor 1.jpg

Quittor, also known as Lateral Cartilage Necrosis, is swelling and sometimes discharge near the lateral cartilage around the pastern of the horses leg.  This condition today, is not as common as it once was.  More often than not it is an infection in the horses foot that would cause laminitis.  Quittor is much more of a serious condition.  This condition was common in the front legs of draft horses because when they would pull in teams, they would occasionally step on the sides of the front feet of another.  Quittor occurs in the coronary band just above the hoof mostly due to injuries.  Injury to this coronary or pastern area can cause subcoronary abscesses from infection or by something that penetrated the sole of the hoof.  Bacteria can get in the foot through cracks in the hoof or wounds in the pastern area.  The abscesses above the hoof can have little sores that will open and seep greenish-yellow pus. 

This condition can be detected fairly easily.  Symptoms of quittor include a warm, swollen area above the coronary band.  It is normally very painful to the horse when touched.  If sores develop, then you will see them with pus as well.  Then you will start to see the horse becoming more and more lame due to the pain from the condition.  Eventually a horse may not bear any weight on the affected leg.  Treatment for this condition can start with antibiotic medicine that can be applied to the wound.  Sometimes however this may not work and surgery is needed.  By performing surgery on a horse with quittor, you can remove all of the dead and affected material to prevent it from reoccurring.  To prevent quittor in a horse, make sure he is shod properly and regularly to prevent cracks, also any puncture wounds to the foot should be cleaned thoroughly.

Here is a link to a video of a horse with quittor:
Here is a link to an interesting website about quittor:


Club Foot

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What is club foot?

The UC Davis Book of Horses defines a club foot as "a flexural deformity of the coffin joint resulting in a raised heel." While the number one cause of a clubbed foot is genetics, other causes include diet, injury, or another painful condition that leads the horse to avoid bearing weight on that limb. Club foot presents itself in many different degrees of severity, called grades.



How do I tell if my horse has a club foot?

A hoof that is a club foot will have a flare at the toe (note this is just at the toe and not on the sides of the whole hoof). You can also tell by comparing the heels of both feet on the horse. If your horse has a club foot, the heel will be higher on that foot than it is on the normal foot. The club foot will also appear narrower and the frog will be smaller than the normal foot. The angle of the hoof will be greater than 60 degrees on the club foot.

Thumbnail image for really bad club foot.jpg not so bad foot.jpg
The picture to the left is an extremely bad case of club foot where unfortunately the horse had to be euthanized. The picture on the right is a less severe case where the horse was provided proper trimming and shoeing.


What can be done to treat a club foot?

In order for any treatment to be successful, the problem must be detected early and taken care of right away. Corrective trimming and correcting any underlying causes of the problem can lessen the severity of the club foot. With less severe cases, trimming the hooves more frequently to lower the heels may be the only treatment needed. Surgery can be used to treat more severe cases along with the use of oxytetracycline, which relaxes the tendons involved.

If anyone is interested in learning more about club foot in horses, the following is a link to an extremely informative website:

White Line Disease

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Contrary to what it's name implies, white line disease is not truly a "disease" and it does not actually affect the "true white line" according to The White line disease is more accurately described as a bacterial or fungal infection in the nonsensitive layer go the outer hoof wall that progresses to the layers of the hoof. The infection slowly moves up the "nonpigmented" space in the stratum medium layer of the hoof. The tissue affected by the infection turns to a chalky powder and eventually separates the the laminae and coffin bone allowing for the rotation of the coffin bone. 
The infection that causes white line disease in the horse starts very small in a damaged area of the hoof between the sole and the wall. It can also start in the small spaces created in the hoof where tearing and weakening occur due to the "failure of the white line." According to one farrier, it is more commonly contracted in hotter, more humid areas as well. 
Many times, white line disease can be detected by a farrier in a normal appointment when the shoe is removed. The initial sign is a "dark crumbly spot in the white line area" this is referred to as a "seedy spot." At this point, the horse feels little to no pain. If the infected area of the hoof is not trimmed away, the infection will continue to grow due to the presence of anaerobic bacteria that thrive on the lack of oxygen. Other signs of white line include a "soft, cheesy hoof horn" and a bulging appearance of the hoof wall. Lameness does not occur right away with this condition, in fact, horses may not exhibit lameness until the condition become serious.

A hoof showing the bulging symptoms of white line disease. 

If white line disease is not taken care of immediately it can become far more serious. The entire infected part of the hoof needs to be removed and completely exposed to oxygen. In these cases of white line, a farrier will be able to "hear the hollowness" in the hoof as the tissue behind the hoof wall becomes more and more infected. First, the farrier removes the the infected part of the outer hoof capsule, after this the remaining dead tissues are removed as well as the previously mentioned chalky powder created from the deterioration of the hoof. The process of removing all the infected tissue on a horse's hoof is called resection. After resection, the horse's hoof is shod with a "bar shoe." This bar shoe is put on the help handle the weight of the horse after the hoof wall has been removed. Glue is preferred over typical nails to attach the shoe.
Oxygen must continue to get to the area that was infected by whittling to assure that the infection does not come back and the hoof is able to heal.


An infected hoof after a resection procedure.

White line can be prevented in most cases. Simple precautions such as regular, proper hoof trimming and care; and, keeping areas where horses are clean and free of areas where fungus and bacteria can grow. Additionally, the regular inspection and cleaning of hooves help to maintain overall hoof health.

This picture shows the "soft, cheesy" appearance of an affected hoof.

This is another link to Equine Medical Service's description of white line disease.


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Ringbone is a horseman's term for osteoarthritis.  It affects the pastern and coffin joint area.  It can be referred to as high ringbone or low ringbone depending on if it affects the pastern or coffin joint respectively.  It causes inflammation in the joint which then creates damaged tissue.  Then the horse's body lays down more bone in an attempt to heal the damaged tissue.  This bony development usually appears at the joint surface or the attachment site of the joint capsule to the bone.  Horses with ringbones will show symptoms to varying degrees.  Symptoms of ringbone include feeling or seeing the bony growth, enlargement on the sides of the pastern joint, heat and swelling at the joints, and lameness.  The stride of a horse with ringbone with often be shortened or show bobbing lameness. Sometimes the effects of ringbone are only temporary but they can also be permanent. With good management some horses with ringbone can do very well but in the same situation a different horse with ringbone can become very lame.

ringbone xray.jpg

You can still ride horses with ringbone but special precautions and care needs to be taken.  Treatments can range from extracorporeal shockwave therapy, anti-inflammatory joint injections, synthetic joint fluid injections, and special hoof trimming.  The main thing you can do for your horse with ringbone is proper management techniques.  You need to make sure your horse has constant exercise at a low level.  Your horse will do better with more space to move around because movement increases circulation to the joint.  Their footing should be of a medium softness level.  There are also various physical therapy techniques such as warm therapy, massage therapy, or acupuncture.



A horse with ringbone- before and after corrective surgery



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A Keratoma is a rare, benign tumor of the keratin/ horn-producing cells of the hoof. Horn-producing cells usually hard, water-resistant capsule that protects the sensitive structures in the foot. It is thought to be caused by chronic irritation, but some horses can be diagnosed with no history of injury or sickness.


When horses develop Keratoma, most will develop a mild lameness, but some may show no signs at all. When a farrier comes, they may notice some deformity in the hoof wall. Keratoma's originate near the coronary band and gradually make their way down the hoof, just as a fingernail may grow. When looking for Keratoma, you should pay attention to the hoof wall bulging in any areas, which would be one of the first signs.  You can see if a horse is suffering from Keratoma by taking an X-Ray or having an MRI done.


If your horse gets Keratoma, it is best to remove the abnormal tissue. If all of the abnormal tissue is not removed, the tumor can keep growing. The tumor must be removed under anesthesia or a local numbing block.

White Line Disease

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White Line Disease, also known as Seedy Toe, is a secondary disease caused by a primary hoof problem such as chronic laminitis, abnormal hoof conformation or any problems which cause a hoof wall seperation. WLD is a keratoltic process on the solar surface of the hoof. It is a seperation of the inner zone of the hoof wall. The seperation occurs in the non-pigmented horn at the junction between the stratum medium and the stratum lamellatum. The following picture is a diagram of the areas of the hoof to give you a better picture of where WLD occurs.


WLD1.jpgThis seperation is normally invaded by bacteria or fungi, which leads to infections.At first the horse will not show signs of lamenss because WLD does not attach the sensitive tissue. Eventually, it will become so extreme that the horse will not be supported by that hoof and it will no longer be usable. This picture is showing the beginning stages of WLD. It is the dark spot located at the bottom of the picture.


WLD2.jpgA biopsy of the hoof can help determine whether or not it is WLD. This process takes about 90 days and a lot of money, but most farriers will be able to recognize the disease. It is recommended that the diseased area be dug out, which is called a hoof wall resection. All traces of the diseased hoof must be removed. It needs to be opened to fresh air and sunlight. The area needs to be protected from dirt, manure, mud and rocks. Over time, hopefully, the new hoof will begin to grow. During this growing time the horse will show signs of lameness. Below is a picture of a horse that has a part of their hoof dug out. As you can see it can cause a lot of problems. 






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Thrush is an infection, bacterial or fungal, in the frog and heel bulbs of the horse's foot which is predisposed by moist, damp, dirty ground or stable conditions and results in the degeneration of the protective frog callous. The most identified organism responsible for thrush, Spherophorus neaophorus, eats away at the tissue of the frog and can inhabit the cracks and crevices throughout the hoof. In addition to dirty, damp conditions, this infection develops as a result of poor routine hoof care and prolonged confinement. The most recognizable symptom of thrush is a foul smelling black discharge in the affected area of the frog. Other things to look for include deepening of the clefts of the foot and, in severe cases, pain when applying pressure to the frog or cleaning out your horse's feet. If the horse is indeed showing signs of pain, a veterinarian should be consulted to check for lameness issues.                                                      

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This image shows degeneration of the horse's frog in addition to the characteristic black discharge.

Thrush is very manageable when caught early, however, it is important to be aware of its likelihood to return. To treat a horse with this condition, it is critical to move them to a clean and dry environment. Thorough cleaning of the foot should be performed to remove debris from within the infected frog using a dilute iodine solution or other antiseptics on a regular basis. There are a number of commercial products that exist for treating thrush, so consulting your veterinarian or farrier for a recommendation could be beneficial. To prevent thrush from infecting your horse, keep their stall and turn out area dry and clean and thoroughly pick out their feet everyday. During prolonged periods of damp weather, thrush remedies can also be a good preventative measure. Regular farrier care, about every 4-6 weeks, and exercise will both help to promote the overall hoof quality of your animal. The following link provides a video in which Dr. Scott Morrison, an equine podiatrist at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky, discusses thrush in the hoof of the horse.    

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This photo is a good representation of the environment that could lead to thrush in horse's if they are left in the area for a prolonged amount of time without any cleaning of their feet.

White Line Disease

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White Line Disease is the deterioration that happens on the inner part of the wall of the horse's hoof. In the earliest stages of the disease, there is only a noticeable change on the ground surface of the hoof. It always begins with a separation that occurs between the wall of the hoof and the sole. The process itself will actually remove the part of the hoof that is meant to protect it, and this can lead to bacteria and fungus. 
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Although the cause of White Line Disease is not completely known, there are some things that may contribute to the separation of the hoof wall and sole junction. Some of these may include moisture that is excessive, feet that are unbalanced, trimmings that are improper, a hoof angle that is acute, deformities in the flexture, and also trauma that is direct and bleeds. There are also some early warning signs to look for. These include tenderness in the sole when hoof testing is done. Also, there might be things  such as an occasional heat in the hoof, flattening of the sole, or the forming of a dish alongside one side of the hoof. If you want to catch the disease at an early stage, you should definitely get your horse looked at by a vet. Most of the time, you will not notice the symptoms, but a vet will be able to.  

This youtube video is great to watch. It shows you how to prevent and treat White Line Disease. Click Here!

Navicular Disease

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health-hoof.jpgNavicular disease (more commonly called Navicular Syndrome) results in lameness in horses, and is a condition in which the navicular bone becomes degraded or inflamed. There is no single identified cause for navicular disease, but a couple of conditions that have be known to contribute to it are compression, tension, and toe-first landing. Repeated compression of the navicular bone usually causes the cartilage to degenerate and become less shock-absorbing. Tension on the ligaments contributes to navicular disease because of the strain and inflammation that it causes, as well as affecting the blood flow and supply to the area of the leg. Toe-first landing has been seen as a cause because this type of movement of the horse puts an extra strain on the deep digital flexor tendon and strains the horse's ligaments.

To visually identify if a horse may have navicular disease, a veterinarian or horse owner could look for heel pain. This could be in the form of inflammation in the ligaments supporting the navicular bone, or they may notice that the horse is walking on it's "tip-toes" to relieve the pressure off of the foot. Navicular disease is usually in the front feet of the horse, and horses often stumble trying to walk in a manner to take the pressure off of the injured foot.

podiarty-article-image-copy.jpgTreatments vary by horse, but the most common methods include: trimming the horse's feet to improve hoof form, placing shoes on the hoof that will lift and support the heel, changing to a barefoot method of hoof care, a less intense exercise regiment, medications such as vasodilators, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anticoagulants, and a final method is surgery.

These two pictures show the digital image of a horse with Navicular Syndrome and an image taken with thermography which shows the heat in the lower leg and hoof which is an indicator of inflammation.

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This short video clip of Dr. Vernon Dryden at the Riddle Equine Hospital gives an excellent overview of Navicular Syndrome.


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Thrush is a bacterial infection that happens mostly in the frog of the hoof.  It is caused by a bacteria that grows naturally in damp, dirty environments.  The easiest way to detect thrush is by a strong smell that is easily detected when cleaning a horse's feet out.  Another obvious sign is the grooves around the frog will turn black.

Horses will not always become lame when infected with thrush, because it does not normally infect sensitive tissue at first.  However, if it is not treated, the bacteria can start to infect other parts of the hoof.  This will cause the horse to become lame.


Thrush is fairly treatable if caught early enough.  The main thing that has to be done is making sure that the horse's feet are kept clean.  After the hooves are cleaned out the main medicine that is used it an iodine solution.  To prevent thrush, horses have to be kept in a clean, dry environment.  Their feet have to be cleaned daily and have their hooves trimmed every four to six weeks.  While thrush is easy to treat, it can take up to a year for healthy tissue to replace the tissue that was damaged.


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canker.jpg              Usually beginning in the horse's frog, canker is a chronic anaerobic infection that is characterized by the proliferation of horn tissue. Other variations of this disease occur in different species including hoof rot in sheep and trench foot in humans. Historically, canker was thought to be caused by poor living conditions such as a wet or unhygenic environment, but many horses that are well cared for can contract canker. In the earlier stages, canker may be confused with an unresponsive case of thrush. Once the disease progresses, the frog area will develop small finger-like papillae made of light brown or grey tissue that resembles cauliflower. A strong fetid odor will also accompany the previous symptoms. If the canker is left untreated during the early stages, horses with this disease will become lame, and the affected tissue will bleed easily and be painful to the horse when touched.



 equine_canker03.jpg           Unfortunately, there is no standard cure for Canker, and many of the treatments used for horses with infection are ineffective. Surgical debridement of the disease has been the most successful treatment. This process usually involves placing the horse under anesthesia because of the pain involved in this surgery. The infected areas can be removed with a sharp hoof knife and a scalpel. Since the hoof will be extremely sensitive after the surgery, this method of treatment also requires cryotherapy to freeze the area that was debrided. Until no traces of the disease remain, the hoof must be wrapped, washed with surgical scrub, and packed with antibiotics daily. On the other hand, many topical treatments are available such as Magic Cushion Extreme and Well-Horse Antibacterial Resin. However, there is no clinic evidence available to support the success of these products. Obviously, the treatment for canker is extremely labor intensive and may not remove the disease. For these reasons, many horses that develop canker are euthanized especially those that do not receive treatment in the early stages of the disease.


stand.jpg Although the horse pictured above does not have canker, this picture demonstrates the stance a horse with canker will assume to relieve the pressure on the frogs of its back feet. This is different from the stance a horse with laminitis that shifts the weight to the heels.


Navicular Disease

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navicular hooves 3.jpgNavicular disease or navicular syndrome (podotrochlosis or podotrochlitis), is a soundness problem characterized by chronic degradation of the navicular bone, navicular bursa, and the surrounding tissues. It is the most common cause of chronic forelimb laminitis in domestic horses but is virtually unseen in wild horse populations, ponies, and donkeys.


The exact cause isn't known but there are several factors thought to contribute. These include:

  • heredity (leading to poor hoof shape or weak bones)
  • poor or wrong shoeing or trimming methods
  • possible just being shod at all since metal shoes don't allow the hoof to expand and contract, lessening its ability to pump blood and act as it was physiologically designed (although this is based solely on cadaver research)
  • lessened blood supply to the hoof 
  • poor hoof form (contracted sole or frog, weak digital cushion, high or weak heals, long bars, cracks, or abscesses)
  • toe-first landing
  • lots of hill or over fence work (stresses the deep digital flexor tendon and possibly overextends the pastern and coffin joints)
  • routinely exercising on hard or uneven surfaces (increases concussion)


navicular vs normal.jpgSymptoms:

If your horse shows signs of heel pain or lameness and is"'tiptoeing" about, it could be possible he has navicular syndrome. If the pain has lasted for months, you may also start to notice changes in hoof shape. To make a diagnosis, your vet will perform x-rays and anesthetic blocks to the navicular area (to assess where the pain is). If the x-rays show degeneration or other changes in association with the pain, your horse has navicular syndrome. To see an example of how navicular syndrome is diagnosed, watch this video clip.



navicular shoeing.pngThere are several treatment options you can consider. The best option depends on how severe the case is, the age and purpose of the horse, and how much you are willing to invest. When dealing with navicular syndrome, keep in mind that since it is chronic, it can be managed but not cured, so treatment will be ongoing. Isoxuprine and Tildren are two medications commonly used in treatment, or you could opt for corrective shoeing (see image at right), "barefoot" trimming such as the physiological trim, or,as a last resort, a surgery called Palmer Digital Neurectomy.


Hoof Abscess

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hoof.jpgA hoof abscess is a bacterial infection that can be found in some of the sensitive structures of the horses hoof.  These infections are in one centralized spot and they are pockets of pus between stuck two layers of tissue in the hoof wall causing pressure on the foot due to the fact that the hoof cannot expand as the pus accumulates. The abscess will find the weakest spot in the tissue and work its way through until it hits the surface and can drain. They can be mostly be found on the sole or bulbs of the heel, but they can work their way up through the hoof wall to the coronary band.  They can be caused by sharp objects, damage to tissue due to less blood flow, or bacteria and moisture accumulating in cracks or fissures of the hoof wall.
The signs of a hoof abscesses are lameness and signs of pain such as not using the leg or walking on the toe, swollen tendons and excess heat and swelling of the leg. In order to diagnose a horse of having a hoof abscess, hoof testers can be used to test sensitivity of the hoof in different places, heat and swelling of the pastern and fetlock can be observed as well as an increased digital arterial pulse. In order to treat this condition, a loop or hoof knife can be used to make a small hole in the abscess once the origin has been found by using the hoof tester. This hole is made to drain the pus and it often relieves some pain from the horse immediately. If the abscess is too far into the foot for an incision to be made, the abscess must make its way to the surface until a cut can be made. Once the cut is made then epsom salts  can be applied to pull bacteria from the infected area and the leg is wrapped in order to keep dirt and other debris from coming in contact with the sensitive and healing area. The wrap also provides extra support for the horses hoof structures until it is healed.To prevent this situation, have regular appointments with a farrier or trim your horse regularly.


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thrush 3.bmpCondition: Thrush is an anaerobic bacterial disease that affects the hoof of the horse. The bacterium, Fusobacterium necrophorum, affects the frog region of the hoof. Thrush is a very common issue among horses, and the bacterial growth is promoted by the cool, dark, and moist environment of the hoof. This bacterium is found in horse manure and also in the soil, so it is natural that horses kept in manure covered, mud filled areas would be more prone to thrush. However, while this trend is generally true, horses kept in perfectly clean stalls and well managed paddocks are still susceptible to thrush.

Symptoms: There are different levels of severity of thrush, but symptoms include a dark color or discharge from the frog, sides of the frog, or cleft, sensitivity or deterioration of the frog, and/or deep cracks that run to the bulbs of the heels. If neglected, thrush can lead to lameness.

thrush 1.jpg Treatments: These include commercial treatments to veterinary treatments. If the symptoms are causing lameness, the veterinarian should be contacted right away. However, most cases of thrush can be taken care of with commercial treatments. Some of these include Thrushbuster, Thrush Off, and Thrush-XX. Thrushbuster, for example, lasts up to 8 days per application. Follow this link to see other commercial products offered by Valley Vet. One major preventative of thrush is exercise. Exercise results in increased vascularity of the hoof and is shown to reduce the likelihood of developing thrush.  


Source: (Link)

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