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Injuries and Diseases of the Hoof III: Wall Break-Back and Hoof Wall Rings/Laminitis Disclaimer
Professor RR Pascoe AM, DVSc. FRCVS. FACVS

Wall Break-Back   Top
This is where portions of the hoof wall break out and expose the sensitive laminae. The condition is not always painful but reluctance to walk and pain on digital pressure over the damaged hoof can be encountered.

Diagnosis is made on the typical clinical appearance and radiography may confirm adjacent pedal bone demineralisation. Treatment is by the use of resin-bonded bandages round the wall that may allow more support of nails and shoe. Feed 20gm biotin daily and use glue-on shoes.

Hoof Wall Rings / Laminitis   Top
These are most often due to dramatic feed and work changes, episodes of laminitis or other causes of foot inflammation, or prolonged periods of systemic illness. They can also follow ‘therapeutic’ or accidental blistering with strong iodine or even liquid mercurial blisters, which are applied to the coronary band in an attempt to promote horn growth. Growth from such treatment often shows as wavy and irregular rings. Excessive stress or severe exercise can induce rings in the wall horn of endurance horses.

Laminitis produces the most marked changes and in the chronic form the hoof will have a series of rings plus a change in wall angle due to white line separation.

Chronic laminitis is characterized by lameness, ‘laminitic’ rings on the hoof, change in the hoof angle, rotation or sinking of the third phalanx, and the presence of a laminar wedge. Usually the lameness is bilateral when due to metabolic changes, but a single weight-bearing foot can be affected where another foot or leg has been non-weight-bearing for a long period. It also occurs in selenium poisoning and Cushing’s disease.

Clinical signs and diagnosis of laminitis   Top
  • Severe, often bilateral lameness with an exaggerated gait having an obvious, characteristic heel-toe-foot placement pattern
  • Heavy ‘ring-formation’ of the hoof with excessive flaky horn growth
  • The hoof wall grows faster at the heels than the toe, which leads to dishing or 'slippering' of the wall
  • Dramatic widening of the white line due to damage to the laminae is common.
  • Laminar wedge develops with a dropped sole where rotation of the third phalanx has occurred
  • Bruising of the sole just behind the white line on the anterior portion of the sole is common
  • In severe cases, suppuration of the dropped sole and prolapse of the pedal bone through the sole may occur
  • The above characteristic signs and distinctive radiographic findings confirm the diagnosis of laminitis

  • Treatment of hoof wall rings/laminitis   Top
  • Very careful farriery is required to correct the underlying disorder and the foot/hoof problems
  • Correction is a slow, costly procedure and the owner should be fully appraised of the likely prognosis
  • No specific treatment is applicable to the ‘laminitic’ rings, although careful oiling and reshaping can help. Care must be taken not to damage the outer protective layers of the hoof as this may cause drying and cracking
  • Where reshaping of the dorsal wall is necessary, use of hoof dressing on the exposed wall area is advisable

    Professor Reginald Pascoe AM, BVSc. MVSc. DVSc. FRCVS FACVSc is an Equine Specialist and principal of Oakey Veterinary Hospital in Queensland. His research has covered many aspects of equine related problems and he currently holds four Veterinary Association and industry awards for veterinarians in his honour. More

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