With the weather in my area being extremely hot and dry , it is of interest to me monitor the condition of horses hooves at this time , I have differently noticed the hoof becoming harder during the summer months & have experienced some interesting cases where trainers continue to present horses returning from spells that are extremely over grown , cracked due to poor balance hooves expecting to place shoes on them . ( I always say you can make a silk purse out of a sours ear).
It is amazing how the hoof conditions itself naturally, the water content of the foot comes from the blood & the environment, there is a certain amount of evaporation will occur, which the body will replace as needed. When i trim a horse on a rubber or concrete you can generally see it leave a wet footprint.
Often if the horn is extremely hard I will use my heat gun or flame pencil which I find draws the moisture to the surface, not only does it make it easier to cut with my nippers & it saves my rasp a little.
I do have some concern that this hard horn will interfere with the concussion or bulging at the loading of the hoof and I am convinced the nails will stress with the lack of conditioned hoof which will result in shoe loss.
With dry hooves comes cracks not totally as a result of dry unconditioned hooves but they seem to be hand in hand with some of the horses lately.
Cracks happen for many reason not only drastic moisture changes, my pet hate poor balance, over grown weak hooves, flares or poor management. Regardless of the cause, the treatment is relatively the same.
Most of the cracks I have been working on lately have ranged from serve to pretty tame, most of them have required sectioning out using power tools to investigate the severity of the crack. I have worked on quiet a few lately using different methods of repairing but basically all needed sectioning out.
Obviously the more active the crack the harder repair weather it’s high in the coronary band etc. Most can be repaired with quarter hoof patches or bogging. The mysterious cross cut across the crack will only weaken the the hoof wall further.
Cracks in the top of the wall indicate poor hoof condition or hoof health .stress cracks can be caused from over rasping the hoof wall too high during trimming that part of the structure. Horizontal cracks tend to enlarge as the hoof grows down and needs to be opened up but then filled with synthetic hoof material.
But basically poor balance is the major contributor to the above problems, so balancing through the centre of balance is your answer and a regular hoof care plan.
Very interesting presentation by Dr David Hood on Hoof Hydration:
The outer hoof wall, being predominantly made of lipids is hydrophobic. So very little water will pass through, in or out. However, while liquid H2O having surface tension between molecules has difficulty permeating the outer wall, H2O molecules suspended in air do not have the surface tension between molecules therefor passes through the lipids of the outer wall much more easily. So relative humidity has a big effect on moisture content of the foot as opposed to standing in water.
I have a lot of photos & project horses on my website so check them out .