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Sand Cracks In Horses: All You Need To Know For Diagnosis And Treatment

A horse in a training ring, bottom half showing with its legs in motion.

Having proper medical care for your horse is one of the most important things every horse-owner should have on-call or on hand. Horses are hardy animals, but they can also easily be injured or ill.

One of the more common ailments that horses find themselves saddled with is what’s called “hoof cracks” which is just as the name implies, cracks that form for one reason or another in the hooves of your horses. These cracks can be uncomfortable for your horse, and different types can occur.

Sand cracks are a common kind of hoof crack, so don’t worry too much if you find your horse with one of them. They can be fixed and addressed with proper medical care. 

Read on below for a breakdown of sand cracks, and how to treat them. 

A palomino horse grazes in a field.
You think your horses might have a hoof crack, but what is it?

What are cracks in horse hooves?

There are lots of reasons why cracks can form in horse hooves. Sometimes your horse can be genetically predisposed to getting cracks. Other times in an environmental change or a switch in the diet of your horse.

Either way the best way to prevent hoof cracks from getting serious is to continuously check on the health of your horses’ hooves. Keeping an eye on things will of course alert you to any changes in hoof health.

Each kind of hoof crack has a slightly different care routine, sand cracks are no exception to this rule. Make sure you listen to what your vet says to attend to each one properly. 

A white horse and rider are at the beach, walking close to the shore.
Sand cracks are only one of the many types of hoof cracks that can form on a horse and require their own kind of treatment. 

What are sand cracks?

Sand cracks don’t have anything to do with sand, in case you were wondering. Sand cracks are one of the less worrisome kinds of cracks. They form usually because of some outside factor in your horse’s environment, usually not because of a larger health issue. 

Sometimes they occur because of changes in ground condition, from dry to wet soil or grass, or a recent lack of exercise in your horse. 

You can identify a sand crack on your horse by the distinct way that it forms. A sand crack will start at the tony of your horse’s hoof on the coronary band and stretch downwards, unlike a grass crack which will start from the bottom.

Grass cracks and sand cracks are often lumped together because they’re both very thin and usually never penetrate too deeply into the hoof wall. The treatment for them both is similar. 

A white horse from the back, you can't see its head. It trots with its rider in a training ring.
The healing process for a sand crack is fairly simple if the injury isn’t too severe. 

How to treat a sand crack

Now that you’ve identified the sand crack on your horse, what should you be doing to treat it? Well, you should first call your veterinarian before taking any further action, especially if you see any blood or pus in the crack. 

If the crack seems small, however, without any drainage, you can send a picture of the crack to your vet and wait for an appointment.

After your vet has visited and assessed the crack here are the steps you should be taking to make sure your horse is on the path to recovery and hopefully prevent any other sand cracks in the future.

Watch your horse as they walk

This is a crucial part of your horse’s recovery as well as a preventative action against any further hoof cracks. If you're asking your horse to walk you can determine just how severely this sand crack is affecting them.

But what you’re also doing, if you’re going to walk your horse in a few different areas, is possibly determine what exactly was the cause of your horse’s sand crack if it was an environmental factor.

Be prepared once you do this to make some changes to your horse’s environment which could include changing the bedding conditions of your horse or if your vet suggests making some additions to their diet. 

Repair and stabilize the crack

Your vet or farrier will tell you exactly what should be done when it comes to repairing and stabilizing the crack. Each horse’s sand crack is different and the treatment will be adjusted to it. 

Balancing the horse’s distribution of weight will be what your vet or farrier is trying to do, and usually, this can be accomplished by trimming the foot for more minor sand cracks. However, if the crack is more severe they might have to do a corrective shoeing or other stabilization technique. 

Have a professional patch up the crack 

The last and the most important step in healing your horse’s sand crack will be patching up the crack itself with a kind of “glue” to facilitate further healing.

However, this step can’t be taken until your veterinarian has confirmed that the sand crack is free of blood and infection. If they seal up the crack while there are problems still inside it can cause a serious health issue for your horse. 

So before your veterinarian uses this glue on the crack, and only a veterinarian or a farrier should be physically patching up the hoof, make sure that the sand crack is free of bacteria or other nasty microbes. Using a product like FaunaCare’s anti-fungal spray will help with this process.

And after the sand crack has been sealed it shouldn’t be long before your horse is back to normal again, but of course, keep an eye out for any lingering lameness in the foot. 

A chestnut horse and rider practice in a ring, riding in the English style.
Try not to worry too much about a sand crack, it usually heals up pretty fast in horses.

Horses are animals that spend most of their life on their feet, so hoof care and hoof health are of the utmost importance to keep them happy. Hoof cracks like sand cracks can create a temporary setback in your horse’s life, but it won’t stop them.

With the proper care and treatment a sand crack will heal quickly in your horse, and after they’ve been properly assessed life will go right back to normal for them. Soon you’ll be able to go out on a ride like usual! 

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