Have you noticed your horse limping? Does it seem to be in pain while walking? Chances are it might have a degloved horse hoof.
But what exactly is a degloving injury? What causes it and can it be treated?
Read on to learn all you need to know on a degloved horse hoof.
What is Degloved Horse Hoof?
Degloved  horse hoof is when the entire capsule or hoof cap becomes detached from the hoof. When a horse loses their hoof capsule, it is considered a serious injury because the hoof cap is responsible for protecting sensitive structures such as nerves, tendons, muscles, and bones inside the hoof.
The hoof cap also covers the sensitive laminae and the coronary band. If a horse does not have a hoof cap, it will not be able to withstand pressure on the affected leg and be considered severely lame.
A degloved horse hoof is a painful condition that is equivalent to tearing your toenail off.
Younger horses are more susceptible to degloving because every part of their body is not fully developed yet, including the hoof. Foals especially have not completed the proper training, so they are more likely to get degloved on accident.
Here is a video that explains more about degloved horse hoof:
Check: Horse Boots for Laminitis
What Causes Degloved Horse Hoof?
Any horse can become a dehooved horse for many reasons. Even the best sport boots for horses cannot stop degloved hooves. Degloving injuries are not super common but it can happen through one of the following means:
Laminitis  is a hoof infection. When a horse has laminitis, it means that the tissue between the hoof and the coffin bone is damaged and inflamed.
The tissue that becomes infected is called the laminae, which is responsible for connecting the coffin bone surface on one side and the inside of the hoof wall on the other.
The infection causes a disruption of blood flow to the sensitive laminae and the insensitive laminae.
When it is severe, laminitis can lead to the founder or the separation of the coffin bone from the hoof as well as degloving.
Front hooves are the most likely to become laminitic  because they carry the majority of the horses’ weight.
The majority of laminitis cases occur in ponies and older horses and can lead to severe injuries.
2- Physical Injury
Whether accidental or not, any injury your horse sustains to their leg or hoof can cause them to have a degloved hoof.
Horses can get injured while they are out to pasture playing with other horses. Sometimes, these injuries cause the hoof wall to come right off.
READ MORE: First Sign of Tendon Injury in Horses
How to Keep Degloving from Occurring When A Horse Gets Injured
Although injury can lead to degloving, here are some ways you can prevent it from happening
- Daily care of legs and hooves including inspection, grooming, and hoof picking
- Treat all lameness with care
- Feed your horse a low sugar diet
- Limit working your horse on hard ground
- Keep paddocks well maintained
3- The Farrier Did a Poor Job on Their Horse Shoes
Horseshoes have to be put on correctly to ensure hoof health. Horses should get their hooves trimmed and or get a new pair of shoes every six months to a year.
If new shoes are not put on correctly a horse can step wrong or hurt their hoof on the tough ground which can cause de-gloved hoof. Degloving can also be caused by poor hoof health.
CHECK: Are Horseshoes Cruel?
4- Getting Accidentally Stepped on By Other Horses
Clumsy foals are prone to be stepped on by their mom or other horses. Since foals have fragile hooves, they have greater chances of degloving than a mature horse
5- White Line Hoof Infections
White line disease  is a fungal and bacterial infection. It starts to develop in any small crack in the hoof wall, and affects any non-sensitive parts of the foot.
The bacteria and fungus love to erode the keratin in the hoof, and whistle-line disease can sometimes cause the coffin bone to rotate.
White line disease can lead to degloved hoof because the fungal infection can cause the hoof cap to fall off if it is not caught early enough.
Can Horses Deglove Their Hooves?
If horses injure themselves badly enough, they can deglove their hooves.
Now that you know where degloved hoof comes from, let’s look at the treatment options and prevention
What is the Treatment for Degloved Hoof?
First things first, you should seek medical attention immediately. Call your vet!
Farriers can create a fake hoof cap made of epoxy resin to stop the damage from occurring.. Do your best to prevent dry hoof.
If the horse is in pain you give them pain killers or anti-inflamatory.
Horses that have a severe case of degloved hoof have to be on a soft surface 24/7 until they are better. Their diet will also need to be low sugar or sugar-free to prevent laminitis from occurring.
Even after the hoof cap regrows, monitor your horse for laminitis, hoof abnormalities, and temporary or permanent lameness depending on the severity of their condition
How to Prevent Degloved Horse Hooves
Thankfully, there are many things horse owners can do to prevent degloved hoof from developing. These prevention strategies include:
- Daily hoof inspections to ensure healthy hooves
- Careful hoof trimming
- Proper shoeing and the correct size shoe
- Feeding nutritional supplements to keep the hoof cap strong as well as low carb diets
- Riding on hoof safe terrain
The more you can do to prevent degloved hoof, the better off your horse will be because it is a painful injury.
Can horses survive degloved hoof?
Although degloved hoof is a serious injury, it is not a deadly disease and horses can survive it. In severe cases, they may deal with chronic lameness as a result of the condition.
Can a horse regrow a hoofcap?
Horses can regrow their hoofcaps in a year’s time.
Can a horse survive without a hoof?
Horses need all four of their hooves to survive. They are very large animals and cannot distribute their body weight without all of their hooves.
Degloved horse hoof is a serious condition where the horse’s entire hoof capsule comes off, exposing sensitive nerves and tissues.
It can be treated with stall rest and creating a fake hoof capsule using epoxy resin and stall rest. Prevent this condition through regular hoof checkups, a proper sugar free diet, and limiting time on hard surfaces
Please share your experience with degloved horse hoof!
- 1. Degloving: Images, Types, Treatment, and Complications [Internet]. Healthline. 2018. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/degloving
- 2. Laminitis – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics [Internet]. www.sciencedirect.com. [cited 2022 May 9]. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/laminitis
- 3. Young A. Laminitis [Internet]. School of Veterinary Medicine. 2020. Available from: https://ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/laminitis
- 4. Hoof Help: White Line Disease [Internet]. US Equestrian. Available from: https://www.usef.org/media/equestrian-weekly/hoof-help-white-line-disease
Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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