From Endurance to Dressage
While I feel like I know more about horse physiology than a lot of riders, I definitely don't know everything. I don't even know a fraction of everything. One of the (many) things that I didn't know was what a quarter crack actually is. Of all of the parts of the equine body to learn about, hooves are the one thing that I don't totally geek out about unless it comes to abscesses. I dig those.
Near the end of last week, I think it was Thursday, I looked down at Izzy's feet like I always do and gave an involuntary wince. Crap. There was a pretty long crack growing from the bottom of Izzy's hoof towards his coronary band. It didn't look good. I immediately shot a couple of photos and fired them off to my farrier with the message, Should this be something to worry about?
I know just enough about hooves to recognize that it was a crack in his quarters. Wouldn't that make it a quarter crack? Every rider knows that quarter cracks are definitely not good. I have a really good farrier, so rather than consult Dr. Google, DVM, I waited for him to respond. He told me not to worry, but that he would be by to clean it up. That was a better reply than I was hoping for, but still.
As we were nearing the end of my Saturday lesson with Sean Cunningham, owner and trainer at STC Dressage, I saw my farrier pull up. Rather than drive down to where he usually works on the horses, he stopped right outside the arena and waited for me to finish. Since it was just going to be a quick touch up, I didn't even bother to untack. I led Izzy straight from the arena to the truck.
Izzy only wears shoes in the front - long story, so the crack was on a hind hoof. My farrier took out his nippers and snipped away the hang nail. He did some work with the file and then repeated the process on the other hoof. As he finished, I started asking questions. First, I wanted to know if it was a quarter crack. For the first time, someone was able to give me a brief, but very intelligible explanation of what a quarter crack really is.
He explained that while this crack did appear on Izzy's hoof quarter, it wasn't an actual quarter crack. Quarter cracks begin at the coronary band and go downward. In his words, the hoof wall at the coronary band is paper thin which makes it more susceptible to splitting and cracking. Speedy damaged his coronary band pretty severely a few years ago, and it did take quite a while for the damage to grow out. Even that injury wasn't an actual quarter crack; he ripped his coronary band open on something.
My farrier explained that the heal quarter is actually a thin part of the hoof and is made to chip away. As it chips off, it allows the horse to even out the rest of the hoof wall. For wild horses, this is a normal and natural process. While Izzy's hind feet were just trimmed three weeks ago, we had a deep, soaking rain a week or two ago which softened Izzy's feet. While messing around in his paddock, he probably caught the quarter of his hoof on something which tore it open without knocking it completely away. It was a lot like a human hang nail.
When my farrier trims Izzy, he always adds a slight arch to the hoof wall which keeps the quarters from resting on the ground. This way, it doesn't tear off like Izzy's just did. When Speedy injured his coronary band, the vet and farrier did the same thing to aid Speedy's healing. For a regular trim, the arch is much flatter than the one they did for Speedy.
Even though Izzy's hoof now has a pretty good chunk missing, my farrier assured me that horses do just fine with even bigger hunks missing. Damage to the upper part of the hoof is much more serious than anything below the midline of the hoof.
Izzy's not lame in any way, and knowing how quickly Speedy's hoof changed from day to day, I bet this grows back in before my farrier comes in three weeks. And if it doesn't grow in completely, my farrier won't even have to add a new arch; it will still be there.
Thank goodness for good farriers.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: