Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corns on Horses' Hooves

are prevented with routine trimming and proper shoes.

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The value of a horse depends, in large part, on the health and condition of its feet. A horse’s feet and hooves are subject to various ailments, including corns. Horse hooves and human toenails and fingernails have similarities. They are made of a keratin substance that makes them hard and protective and allows them to grow continuously. Horse hooves, like human nails, require regular grooming. With horse hooves, though, grooming has more than aesthetic value. It is essential to the animal's well-being.

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Corns are the result of bruising or impact injury to a horse’s hoof. A corn appears as a red or pinkish area in the heel of the horse’s hoof. The area subject to corns is actually called “seat of corns.” Horse’s hooves should be inspected periodically for early detection and to prevent exacerbation of problems such as hoof corns. Hoof corns may be dry or wet. Either type of corn requires immediate attention.


Horse hooves require routine grooming. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, horses’ hooves should be trimmed or shod every six to eight weeks in the summer and every six to 12 weeks in the winter. The interval between treatments depends on the horse; hooves grow at different rates from animal to animal. Improper shoes or leaving shoes on too long may result in corns.


The goal of routine hoof maintenance is to keep the hoof balanced. With proper balance, the horny part of the hoof protects the softer, more vulnerable parts of the horse’s foot. Ted Comston, a farrier from eastern North Carolina, explains that a horse’s hoof has an outer hoof wall, a pad – called a frog – inside, and a bar between the two areas. “When the bar is not trimmed down enough,” states Comston, “it presses against the sensitive sole every time the horse takes a step. In time, a tender place, called a corn, develops.”


The first sign of a corn may be limping or favoring the foot, with the horse not putting its full weight on that hoof. Any sign of lameness calls for immediate attention from a farrier or veterinarian. If the horse is discovered to have a hoof corn, the treatment is immediate and simple. According to Comston, a corn is cut out. This gives the horse immediate relief in the same way removal of a splinter from under a fingernail relieves a human being.

ReferencesHorseman Magazine: Horse Corns -- Common Hoof ProblemsUniversity of Missouri Extension: Unsoundness and Blemishes of Horses: Feet and LegsUniversity of Minnesota Extension Service: Hoof CareTed Comston; Farrier; Eastern North CarolinaPhoto Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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