Common Hoof Diseases and How to Treat Them

This causes a black, foul-smelling discharge. There are horse hoof care products to treat thrush. Consult a veterinarian for treatment, especially for complicated infections.

Taking care of horses naturally includes maintaining their hooves. Watch out for the following threats to hoof health:


Hoof Bruise

A hoof bruise shows up as patches on the hoof wall or sole. It may be caused by trauma, incorrect trimming, or ill-fitting shoes. It may have a reddish or yellowish discoloration. A bruised hoof can cause sensitivity or lameness.

Rest may cause the bruise to heal on its own, but using boots, shoes, pads, or wraps may also help.


Hoof Abscess

A hoof abscess (infection in the hoof) may develop as a result of injury or puncture. As with other kinds of infection, symptoms include pus, blood, and pain. The wound may look dark.

Treatment involves draining the hoof to relieve pressure caused by pus buildup.


Thrush may develop when the frog – the triangular part of the underside of the hoof – becomes infected. Neglected hooves may lead to the buildup of manure, bedding, and mud within the grooves of the hoof. This causes a black, foul-smelling discharge.

There are horse hoof care products to treat thrush. Consult a veterinarian for treatment, especially for complicated infections.


White Line Disease

White line disease is also an infection that manifests as a cheesy discharge from the hoof. If left untreated, it can lead to horn deterioration and coffin bone rotation. The disease rises from the hoof’s bottom to the coronary band’s white line, causing it to disintegrate.

The disease is caused by moisture such as from wet bedding and a damp stall. Limited exercise may increase white line disease risk as well.



Cracks in the hoof may develop because of blows, injuries, and cuts. They may develop anywhere in the hoof such as the toe, the heel, and the coronet.

Cracks may be named after their location or type. Grass cracks start from the bottom of the heel and climb up, while sand cracks begin from the coronet (the hoof’s crown) and develop downwards. A quarter crack is a vertical break found in the quarter (side part) of the hoof. A horizontal crack is also known as a blowout.

The treatment depends on the severity of the breakage. Stabilization may be required for major cracks.



Laminitis is the inflammation of the hoof laminae (layers). In some cases, infection may reach into the coffin bone. It may result from improper trimming, injury, steroid medications, and excessive grain consumption.

Laminitis signs typically include warmness, strong pulse, hesitancy in bearing weight, and lameness.

Take note that laminitis may interfere with blood circulation and is considered life-threatening. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect its presence.


Navicular Syndrome

Navicular Syndrome is the inflammation and gradual deterioration of the navicular bone’s tissues. Horses with this condition may find it difficult to walk on any hard surface or move in tight circles. Various factors may result in this, such as malnutrition, genetics, or constant impact of the toes. Treatment depends on the cause.


Sheared Heels and Quarters

Improper hoof landing may cause the upward displacement of the heel bulb, causing pain and potential lameness. Having shared heels and quarters increases the risk of hoof wall injuries and infections. It’s associated with improper hoof trimming and faulty equine conformation (body proportions).



Sidebones occur when the cartilage of the coffin bone sides turn into bone because of frequent impact and wrong shoeing. Although sidebones may not cause lameness, they often induce swelling and pain.


Thin Soles

Horses may acquire thinner soles because of genetics or bad hoof care. A thin sole may result in bruising or destruction of the coffin bone.


How to Prevent Bacterial/Fungal Related Diseases in Hoovesvarious common hoof diseases treatment

Check the hooves daily. Regular picking and brushing of hooves may prevent the diseases above. Remove stones, soil, and other foreign material to avoid cracks and resulting infections. Have the hooves trimmed by a professional.

Keep the stall clean and free from debris that might get stuck in the hoof. Remove any wet bedding.


Additional Steps to Keeping Hooves Healthy

A horse with an afflicted hoof needs rest. The veterinarian will provide a schedule for resting and light exercise.

Soaking the affected feet helps improve circulation, relieve discomfort, and clean the wound. In case of abscesses, the soak will help drain pus.

Topical, oral, or injectable medication may be required for treating particular conditions. These must be prescribed by a vet.


When to Bring In a Veterinarian

Call the veterinarian immediately in case of fractures, severe cuts, bleeding, lameness, and difficulty in breathing. Have his/her number with you at all times.

Louis Owens

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