Hooves show when they are not (yet) sound. It is important to assess the whole hoof in its complexity and to explore the causes of its problems before being able to properly work on the hoof. Your hoof orthopaedist has been specifically trained to do this.

DIfHO hoof orthopedists participate in a continuous education process by attending requisite seminars and advanced training sessions designed to teach them to assess hoof situations in their entirety with regards to the general health of the horse and to solve hoof-related problems.

As an untrained horse owner you cannot do this by yourself but you can pay attention to certain signals which show that a hoof is not sound and that it needs treatment.

Below you find a number of symptoms which indicate that the hoof needs help.

There can be massive changes such as cracks, fissures or a chipped off hoof wall.

However, there are other less obvious symptoms which point to problems of the hoof, such as irregularities in the coronet or a rough hoof wall surface.

What to look for:

Flat and contracted heels:

When you look at your horse’s hooves from the side you can see whether the hoof has flat or contracted heels. The hoof wall in the toe and the heel wall will not be parallel to each other. Cracks and fissures can develop as a result.

Chipped off hoof wall:

The cause for a chipping off of the hoof wall is often explained by poor quality hoof horn. This can play a role but in most cases the wall chips away where there are points of high pressure in an asymmetrically shaped hoof or where the hoof wall has become unstable. The loss of stability results in increased movement in these parts of the wall which then can lead to chipping off.

Cracks, creases, irregular coronet:

An irregular coronet indicates an uneven distribution of load. This is especially unpleasant for the horse as the parts of the hoof wall can squash the soft structures above through the high amount of pressure. Aside from cracks and creases, severe problems in the coronary band can also be a result of this.


Slanting walls develop leverage and can lead to cracks and fissures which can in turn lead to multiple other problems. The hoof is in severe need of help when it comes to fissures and cracks.


In unfavourably shaped hooves, leverage and pressure are at work. They can squash the coronary band and this causes blood particles to seep into the horn while it is produced.

Accumulation of hoof horn in the heel:

This is a result of the length of the hoof wall in the toe and the hoof wall in the heel not being in proper relation to each other. Aside from chipping off, this leads to an irregular coronet with the consequences described above.

Please consult with a DIfHO® hoof orthopedist near you to receive a detailed assessment of your horse’s hooves and information on treatment possibilities.
List of all DIfHO® hoof orthopedist