Managing Quarter Cracks with Proper Trimming and Pour-in Pads
By Tab Pigg, CJF
When a person wears the same pair of shoes for a long period of time, some parts of the shoes will wear out before other parts depending on the way the person walks and distributes weight to their feet. Once shoes wear out, the feet are not properly supported. This scenario is also true for hooves and horseshoes. When hooves aren’t trimmed properly or horseshoes don’t fit correctly, the horse distributes its weight unevenly and lands on its feet differently than when properly trimmed or shod. Excessive force and stress on one area of the hoof wall can cause a vertical crack, otherwise known as a quarter crack, which is how the condition got its name. Because of this, it’s important that farriers trim and manage the hooves so that the horse’s weight is distributed evenly across all feet.
Quarter Crack Symptoms and Conditions
Although some horses can be genetically predisposed to quarter cracks, the condition often occurs when hooves are not properly trimmed or maintained. As a result, the hoof 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 has built up from uneven weight distribution.
Several causes and symptoms can be identified before a quarter crack occurs. These include:
Long Toes: Owners and farriers may be reluctant to trim the foot too much, so the heel grows forward toward the toe and under the foot. When this happens, the horse’s foot is not flat on the ground.
This horse has a long toe. Therefore, the foot isn’t flat on the ground and the horse is bearing its weight unevenly. The marked area represents where the horse is at risk for quarter crack.
Heels: Heels grow at an angle. As shown in the image of the horse with the long toe, the angle continues under the hoof because it is not trimmed. As the heel grows under the hoof, the way the foot bears weight is affected, and 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.
This horse has a trimmed hoof which is flat on the ground.
Uneven Hairline: If the horse distributes its weight unevenly, the hairline above the hoof wall becomes uneven. If you notice that the horse is lame and the hairline is crooked, it usually means the weight is unevenly distributed. On a balanced hoof, the hairline is straight.
Managing Quarter Cracks
A horse often becomes lame with a quarter crack, and can become very lame if the condition is untreated. First and foremost, it’s important to determine what caused the quarter crack:
Is the horse’s toe too long?
Is the horse’s weight being distributed evenly?
Is the hoof striking in the same place repetitively?
The problem will never go away if the hoof isn’t properly balanced. The horse’s weight must be distributed evenly without putting stress on the hoof wall. The farrier should be able to measure and decide if the toe is too long and trim the hoof as needed.
When a horse is diagnosed with a quarter crack, it’s important to apply support to the hooves. Vettec Equi-Pak and Equi-Build are supportive pour-in pad materials that work well for this condition. 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 the horse’s weight across the entire hoof-bottom. The horse needs relief from pressure around the quarter crack, and this material is key to providing that relief.
Depending on the severity of the quarter crack, there are materials to help close the cracked area. If the crack is an exposed wound, clean the area, leave it uncovered to heal, and have it treated by a hoof care professional or veterinarian. If the crack seems to be healing and is not infected, Vettec Adhere can be applied over the crack to help close the gap. Adhere can be bonded to the hooves while the horse is standing.
The feet support the horse’s entire body weight, and if not distributed evenly, the weight can cause injury and cracking to the hooves. With proper trimming and pour-in pads for support, the horse will be able to stand evenly and bear weight comfortably. Whether or not the horse is active, it’s important that the farrier manages and trims the hooves consistently.
Just as humans need new shoes every so often for proper support, horses need regular foot care too. Whether you’re preventing or managing quarter cracks, trimming and pour-in pad materials can provide the support and durable protection needed for proper healing. With today’s modern tools and materials, farriers can help horses maintain healthy hoof function more easily than ever before.
This information was contributed by Vettec Hoof Care.
For more information, please visit www.vettec.com.