The right hoof was trimmed but not completely finished and the left was untrimmed. You can see in the toe of the right where I rolled it the crack stops in the outer hoof wall.
They don't go down to the white line and the horse has no definite splits in the hoof so why worry, right?
They seem to be more evident in white hooves, which is just a wives tale (there's no difference in white/black hooves but the lack of melanin influenced by the skin above the hoof) but you see blemishes more easily in white hooves.
Farriers have different names for them, grass cracks, weather cracks, dry cracks etc.
The hoof wall seems more reluctant to chip off, thrush that doesn't seem to want to completely go away, falling apart frogs, lack of concavity, ouchiness on rough terrain, can't hold shoes without chipping off, persistent flares are just some of the symptoms.
There is ALWAYS a reason why hooves don't look smooth and shiny without someone running a rasp over them. A common and yet very unknown cause: White line disease!!!
White line disease (Hereafter known as WLD) is an inappropriate name because it actually originates between the pigmented layer of hoof and the unpigmented layer (AKA the water line as some people call it), not the white line. However it can go down into the white line in a severe case and cause it to die and become hollow (Seedy toe). The pathogens get into the hoof wall, be it by injury such as an abcess, cut hairline, compromised laminae (laminitis, founder) etc. or by neglect such as bad living conditions, long time between trims leaving flares and stretching the laminae, allowing the pathogens to invade etc. It comes from the coronet band and makes it's way down the hoof. This is where you start to see the cracks in the hoof wall. Sometimes the hoof will split and it is common practice for a farrier to either "score" the crack with a rasp, burn it or put a shoe on it to stop it from splitting. The problem is this only treats the aftermath of the issue, not the source so it never goes away completely.
Here you can see a black hoof.
The outer wall is black, the white next to it is the un-pigmented hoof wall layer and then the white line appears yellow. This gelding has had a crack for 5 years and was lame without shoes. So farrier after farrier put shoes on him and yet his hoof still cracked. I came along and told the owner about what was really going on. Notice the bad quality of frog and black between the layers of hoof wall were dead, necrotic tissue has been living.
Here's the hoof clipping. You can see where the split occurred, leaving the pigmented hoof wall intact behind it.
This horse is on his way to having nice, new feet.
This mare however the owner reports always flares, cracks and grows next to nothing for hoof wall. Can you guess what I seen when I rasped a little?
See the black crap there, right between the layers of hoof wall? That is the white line disease. Atrophied frog, nasty.
So what does one do to get rid of this nasty, sneaky sucker? Well start by throwing away all those hoof dressings, thrush treatments and hoof ointments that have chemicals in them. If you have coppertox or have used bleach stop right now! Stop it! Stop it right now and say it with me: IF YOU WOULDN'T PUT IT ON YOUR OWN SKIN DON'T PUT IT ANYWHERE ON YOUR HORSES. PERIOD!!
Chemicals like bleach, coppertox, thrush buster etc. kill good tissues and horn in the hoof. This creates a new buffet of compromised structures for these pathogens to invade and make a new home. Make sure you read labels, pick something that isn't going to harm live tissue. My personal favorite and most effective is Clean trax. It takes a bit more time but is far more effective than anything I have used (yes white lightning included which as I personally witnessed, ate a clients denim jeans. Yikes!).
So my question to you guys, have you witnessed these cracked hooves? What have you been told?