Brittle hooves cause the hoof wall to lose its ability to be flexible. This can cause pain to the horse and induce lameness. The dryness creates a situation where the cell structure is very brittle. There is a tendency with hoof movement, for the cells to break the bonds that hold them together, resulting in the hoof wall cracking. The cracking occurs at the weakest point, often around nail holes or up the hoof wall along the keratin fibres that make up the tubules.
Deep cracks can appear causing other problems to occur such as seedy toe. Often it is not just the hoof wall that is brittle but also the frog, sole and heel.
Brittle hooves can be very painful and can result in lameness. Once the hooves become brittle, it can take up to 12 months for healthy new growth to reach the bottom of the hoof. A proper evaluation of a horse's hoof should be part of scheduled care.
Hoof cracking easily
Shoes falling off early
Trimming is hard work
A tendency to contracted heels
Indication that the diet is lacking particular nutrition
Possible genetic background
Lack of nutrients in the cell structure
Horses that live in hot, dry or sandy environments are susceptible
TREATMENT - Requires a multi-faceted approach. Regular corrective trimming, moisturise with a good quality product that protects as a barrier and provides topical nutrients. Most importantly, a good quality basic diet for your horse, including adequite levels of protein, especially amino acids. The need for minerals such as calcium and phosphorus is crucial for your horses hoof health.