Foot disorders resulting in lame horses are a worst nightmare of the horse property owners. It can cause no end of frustration. Unfortunately, never a truer word was said than that of the old adage “no foot, no horse”. It doesn’t matter whether your horse is a $200 000 performance horse or a $2 000 kids pony, they are all susceptible to hoof problems, and most horses at some stage in their lives will have some kind of lameness.

However, it does seem that some horses are more prone to problems than others, and there can be any number of reasons for this. After all, you have a half tone of horse standing on a very small hoof area and horses spend the majority of their time standing up. So if a horse is lame they generally become very unhappy creatures.

Like most health issues it is better to try and prevent them from happening in the first place than it is to try and cure them; however, some hoof disorders are easier to cure than others. So with this in mind a good farrier; regular trimming and/or shoeing; a good diet with all the essential vitamins and minerals and regularly cleaning out the hooves are all important procedures to prevent problems.

Proper balancing of Phosphorous and Calcium in the diet along with Zinc, Biotin, Sulphur, Copper, Selenium, Methionine, are all essential to healthy hooves.


What Are Some of the more Common Foot Disorders?

Hoof Disorders

Hoof Disorders

A few of the most common foot disorders include, hoof abscesses, Laminitis (founder), White line disease, thrush along with cracks and corns are just a few of the issues you may encounter when owning a horse.

Of these, Laminitis and White line disease are some of the hardest to cure.


Most often a horse that has been diagnosed with Laminitis will have problems for the rest of its life. It’s an insidious problem and probably the worst of the foot disorders, and is most often found in fat, overweight ponies, although all horses can get it.

Laminitis literally means inflammation of the Laminea. It occurs when the sensitive soft tissues connecting the pedal bone to the hoof wall (‘laminae’) are damaged. This allows the pedal bone within the hoof to ‘sink’ downwards and ‘rotate’ backwards.

Signs of Laminitis include:

  • Increased temperature around the hoof.
  • Sweating and anxiety
  • A pounding pulse in the digital palmar artery.
  • Walking very gingerly on front feet
  • Lying down more often

Because Laminitis may vary from chronic to acute, and stable to unstable, the methods of treatment vary greatly. The most important factor is to be on the lookout for it and to treat it early, and to work in conjunction with both your vet and farrier to gain a good prognosis.

White Line Disease (Seedy Toe)

This is when the white line of the horse’s hoof starts to stretch and become weak, it then can cause the wall to separate from the rest of the hoof, thus the term “white line disease”. It is generally thought to occur more often in wet weather, which allows for bacterial and fungal infections to gain access to the hooves more easily.

The first sign of seedy toe is usually a dark spot on the laminae. Your farrier should notice it after rasping the hoof around the area. The second sign would be a vertical crack on the hoof capsule.

One good thing about this problem is that generally the horse is not lame. So one can be thankful for small mercies!

Like most hoof complaints, white line disease is much easier to prevent than to cure. A good farrier will probably recommend a change in diet and maybe environment as well. This, and small regular trims, as often as every two weeks to expose the problem areas to the air will help to overcome the issue. It can however, still be a long road to full recovery.


Thrush is also one of the common foot disorders of horses, but is not life threatening and generally won’t make horses lame.

Thrush is an anaerobic bacterial infection that is found on the horse’s hoof, and is characterised by icky, black, very foul smelling material, generally around the frog area. Sometimes you nearly need a gas mask just to clean your horse’s hooves!!

Treatment generally involves

  • Cleaning out hooves twice daily
  • Trimming away the black, dead tissue
  • Stimulating the blood supply to the hoof and frog with regular exercise and regular trimming of the hooves to ensure that the frog has optimum contact with the ground.
  • Some people may also use an anti-bacterial liquid solution to clean the frog after trimming.
  • And changing the diet may also be needed.

About the author: Ashlee Swenson is a professional writer at do my homework service and happy dog owner. Besides, she is fond of Psychology. In this case, she takes part in different conferences and presentations to get more knowledge and obtain experience. She dreams of helping people cope with their problems. You can see more information here.

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