Fight Common Horse Hoof Issues: Seedy Toe, Thrush and Cracks

Horses hooves in action in sandy, wet terrain.
Horses hooves in action in sandy, wet terrain. Stal Schroten

Newsdate: May 17, 2024 11:00 am
Location: BOULDER, Colorado

Q: How can I keep my horse’s hooves free from common problems? Cavallo President Carole Herder shares her advice….

Horse hooves in water.

Horse hooves in water

Cavallo Hoof Boots aid in healing hoof problems and can easily be used when riding.
© 2019 by Cavallo New window.

Here’s a look at three common problems: seedy toe, thrush and cracks. Find out about the cause, origin and what you can do to help your horse….


The hoof requires simple nutrients. It’s not complicated, and nature provides what’s needed. Horses are enduring survivors. They are not like cows and interestingly can subsist in areas where cows and sheep cannot. Even if the food digested is lower quality, as long as it is high fiber, horses can digest huge amounts.

Feeding horses cultivated high proteins that they can quickly gobble up, with starchy sugars and fructose are not appropriate for their natural digestive system and can lead to any number of hoof related problems.

Slow feeders are a wonderful way to slow the process down so they are not gorging, but rather eating small amounts with continuous mastication as nature intended. Keep the feeder low or on the ground, as head-down position is best for your horse’s digestion.


In a wild-horse environment, horses move around 15 or even 40 miles a day on hard, aggressive terrain--ultimately trimming their own hooves to accommodate their bodies. For our domestic horses, it is our responsibility to ensure their hooves are properly balanced and correctly trimmed.

Your trimming program should mirror what happens naturally. This goes a long way in alleviated many problems.


Tenacious and smelly, thrush is characterized by a foul odor involving the frog and the central and lateral sulci. The area should be cleaned out with antiseptic, protected from mud and moisture and kept dry. You may have to delve deep into sensitive tissue to really clean the infestation out and it can be painful for your horse.

Once it’s clean, it should be treated with antibacterial product. Be diligent and treat thrush daily or you will not conquer its obstinate persistence.


A horizontal hoof crack is often referred to as a “blowout”. It results from an injury to the coronary band or a blow to the hoof. These cracks will generally not increase in size, will heal on their own, and can often go unnoticed. On the other hand, the vertical varieties are most often a result of hoof imbalance.

All that may be required is to remove the bacteria and re-balance the hoof. Horses have incredible healing power and, in this case, new growth is essential for healing. You may use one of several repair products to patch the crack but be very cautious not to trap moisture inside.

Seedy Toe

Seedy toe cannot exist without white line separation which stems from inadequate nutrition, lack of movement (moving the hoof mechanism) or a badly imbalanced hoof. Thankfully, all of the above can be resolved.

If it’s very bad it may require a veterinarian for a possible diagnosis of insulin resistance, (which then relates back to the feed program), or she may advise a hoof re-section. You could pack the white line separation with an antifungal batting which should be kept dry and protected.

Hoof Boots

Trying to keep your horse’s hooves dry and protected while re-habilitating a problem can be challenging. Hoof boots will facilitate your efforts. Leave your horse barefoot so that you can often and easily treat the problem, while maintaining a good balanced trim to correct negative mechanical forces. Boots will help to hold the batting or treatments in place.

The drainage holes in Cavallo Boots, which are so beneficial while riding can easily be blocked with duct tape to allow poultice treatments and bandaging. Your horse will be more inclined to move as he will be more comfortable with sole protection. Cavallo Hoof Boots aid in healing hoof problems and can easily be used when riding.

Go Riding

Get out there and ride. Horses thrive on movement and increased circulation. It can be that simple. There is good information readily available for you to learn more. Hopefully your farrier/trimmer can be your best resource. Find someone you can talk to and who’s company you enjoy; someone who answers your questions in a way you can understand.

Do not over react when you discover a problem. Horses have amazing ability to heal and very often with treatments—less is best.

Carole Herder is the author of the #1 International Bestseller, There Are No Horseshoes in Heaven. She has been involved in horse health since 1993. Her company, Cavallo Horse & Rider Inc., develops, manufactures and distributes horse products in 26 countries. Herder designed and developed Cavallo Hoof Boots and Total Comfort System Saddle Pads. She presents trainings around the world to teach the benefits of keeping horses in a natural state. Herder is an honored recipient of the Royal Bank of Canada Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award. She is a member of the Women’s Presidents Organization, supporting female entrepreneurs in every industry.

Note - Article was first published on in 2019.

Press release by Carole Herder

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