Hoof Rings and Ridges

When observing a horse’s hoof it is common to see minor lines or ridges on the hoof wall. Hoof rings, also called growth rings, occur in healthy hooves and are typically the result of variations in diet and environmental factors from season to season and sometimes changes in work/exercise levels.

More obvious ridges, grooves, or bulges in the hoof wall may be signs of a health problem that occurred at some time in the past few months. Illness which has resulted in temperature, infection, or inflammation changes blood flow and has the potential to affect hoof growth. The ingestion of toxic plants, spoiled feeds, excessive (toxic) intake of particular nutrients (even those that are essential for normal health) and any poisonous substance that influences a horse’s metabolism may result in hoof ridges. These defined grooves in the hoof wall are also common in horses who have suffered from laminitis, with the ridges to take on a V-like appearance toward the toe in chronic cases.

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