let's start by getting a few facts out in the open right away:
1) This article is not meant to replace your farrier.
2) All the patches in the world won't fix poor-hoof quality due to inadequate nutrition or a bad farrier.
3) Bad hooves due to the horse's genetics will always require a Band-Aid of some type.
4) Ignoring little cracks and chips may lead to big trouble.
A healthy, well-fed horse's hoof isn't likely to develop cracks or chips, unless there's an underlying reason. We all know there are a nearly infinite number of ways this can happen, but the most likely culprits include:
1. Poor farrier care, resulting in flares, under-run heels and an overall poorly balanced hoof or waiting too long between trims.
2. Poor management that leaves the horse standing in manure or doesn't provide adequate exercise.
3. Constant work over rocky footing or hard surfaces.
4. Excessive pawing.
Like your farrier, you can use a hoof sealer/hardener or hoof dressing to help protect the hoof and trap internal moisture so the damaged portions can grow out. (Remember it takes nine months to a year for a hoof to completely regrow, so this is no short process.) We've included in our favorites box on this page the products we know are effective.
However, there's another one on the market that we think offers even more for hoof cracks: The SBS Crack Filler Kit.
it's not new, but few of us actually use it, and it's not clear why. The Crack Filler Kit is ridiculously easy to use and effective.
We used it on a horse that arrived in our barn with a nasty front-hoof crack, running right up the middle of her hoof. We immediately started her on a good supplement, of course, and we got our farrier to trim her.
He was able to cut away most, but not all, of the crack. However, we found that as long as any of that crack remained, the area continued to worsen, probably because of the natural movement of the hoof when the horse moved.
Shoeing with clips was an option, as that provides the stability and support the hoof needs to keep a crack from worsening, but we really didn't want to shoe. Although we weren't certain we could keep crack-filler material on the hoof without a shoe, we decided to give it a try.
The kit consists of two tubes with resins that adhere to the hoof extremely well. You mix them just before you decide it's time to use them. You do have to be sure that the crack is completely clean - no dirt or any loose material - which we achieved by washing it clean, then applying a little acetone to remove any residue.
Since our crack was wide, we initially filled it with filler, then placed mesh (also in the kit) over that and finished by spreading more filler over the mesh. We waited a little longer than the recommended 10 minutes to ensure the filler was completely dry. We then rasped the fill until it was smooth.
It stayed in the crack extremely well, and we repeated the procedure after the next trim (one kit lasted us for almost two repairs). That was six months ago, and the crack is now nearly gone.
is a simple, easy-to-use spot treatment for hoof cracks. It helps restore the integrity of the hoof, and it requires no special training to use, except to follow the instructions exactly, especially for preparing the hoof. At $20 a kit, it's well worth the cost. Depending upon the size of the area you're treating, you could get four repairs per kit. Shelf life is about one year, if stored at 70° F. Refrigeration will extend its life even further.