Common Fall Hoof Problems: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hoof health is a fundamental aspect of equine care, and it requires year-round attention. However, as fall approaches, there are specific challenges that horse owners and caretakers should be aware of. Common fall hoof problems can arise due to various factors such as changes in weather, footing conditions, and management practices. In this article, we will explore some of the most prevalent hoof issues that horses face during the fall season, including their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.


Thrush is a bacterial infection of the frog, the V-shaped structure located in the center of the hoof. During the fall, increased moisture and mud create a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Thrush is commonly caused by the bacterium Fusobacterium necrophorum and can be easily identified by its foul-smelling discharge and black, necrotic tissue.


Foul odor

Black, necrotic tissue in the frog

Lameness and sensitivity to hoof pressure

Discharge or pus in the central sulcus (groove in the frog)


Thoroughly clean the affected area, removing all necrotic tissue.

Apply a topical thrush treatment recommended by your veterinarian.

Improve hoof hygiene by ensuring dry, clean turnout areas.

Maintain proper hoof balance and trim regularly.

Hoof Abscesses

Hoof abscesses are pockets of pus within the hoof caused by bacteria entering through a crack or puncture in the sole. In the fall, changes in moisture levels can soften the sole, making it easier for bacteria to penetrate the hoof.


Sudden lameness, often severe

Heat and swelling in the affected area

Increased digital pulse in the hoof

Reluctance to bear weight on the affected limb


Consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

In many cases, the abscess will need to be drained by your veterinarian.

Soak the affected hoof in warm Epsom salt water to encourage drainage.

Keep the horse in a clean, dry environment and provide adequate hoof support.


Laminitis is a painful inflammation of the laminae, the sensitive tissues that connect the hoof wall to the coffin bone. Fall can be a high-risk season for laminitis due to factors like changes in diet, cooler weather, and lush, sugar-rich grasses after summer rains.


Lameness, often shifting weight from one foot to another

Increased digital pulse in all four hooves

Heat in the hooves, especially at the coronary band

Reluctance to move or stand


Contact your veterinarian immediately for a laminitis diagnosis.

Implement dietary changes to reduce sugar intake, possibly transitioning to a dry lot or grazing muzzle.

Provide soft, supportive footing in the horse's environment.

Medications, such as anti-inflammatories and pain relief, as prescribed by your vet.

Hoof Cracks

Hoof cracks can develop or worsen during the fall due to environmental factors and changes in moisture levels. These cracks can vary in severity, from superficial surface cracks to deep, structural fissures.


Visible cracks on the hoof wall

Sensitivity or lameness if the crack extends into sensitive structures

Accumulation of dirt and debris within the crack


Consult with a professional farrier to address the specific type and location of the crack.

Regular hoof maintenance to keep the hooves balanced and prevent further cracking.

Protect the hooves from excessive moisture and dry them when necessary.


Fall is a season filled with beauty, but it also brings challenges for equine hoof health. Vigilant observation and proactive hoof care are essential to prevent and manage common fall hoof problems like thrush, hoof abscesses, laminitis, and hoof cracks. Consulting with a veterinarian and experienced farrier is crucial for accurate diagnosis and the development of a tailored treatment plan. Additionally, maintaining proper hoof hygiene and monitoring changes in diet and turnout conditions can go a long way in ensuring your horse's hooves remain healthy and sound throughout the fall season and beyond.

Why SilverHoof?

Comprehensive Protection
  • Silver Hoof EQ Therapy® by Draw It Out offers a comprehensive solution for maintaining healthy hooves, providing protection against a wide range of microbial infections including thrush, foot rot, and canker.
Proprietary Hoof Conditioning Blend
  • The Hoof Conditioning Blend is a proprietary blend of key components, including Tea tree oil and thyme oil, which stimulate blood flow, assisting in the distribution of nutrients throughout the hoof and expediting hoof growth. This blend also creates a breathable moisture barrier that is both antibacterial and antifungal, leaving your horse's hooves with a healthy shine.
Promotes Strong Hoof Growth
  • This revolutionary hoof care product balances the moisture content of the hoof, supplying the necessary nutrients for strong hoof growth. It also improves dry, cracked, and chipped hooves, increasing hoof strength and pliability, and restoring and supporting flexible, healthy hooves.
Effective Antimicrobial Properties
  • Zinc pyrithione and Silver Nitrate are two key ingredients that address microbial infections at the source. Zinc pyrithione is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that disables the cell transport system in fungal and bacterial cells, while Silver Nitrate affects several aspects of microbial life, including DNA replication, microbial energy production, and oxygen use. Together, these ingredients provide a powerful solution for maintaining healthy hooves.