What do Hoof Rings Indicate?

This article highlights what a horse's hoof rings can mean, and also goes into detail to explain the basics of hoof growth and what factors can impact it.

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By: Kentucky Equine Research |

Hoof surfaces are not completely uniform. New hoof grows from the coronary band downward and often looks smoother and shinier than older horn toward the sole. Hoof rings – minor lines or ridges on the hoof wall – are normal and can be seen but not felt as bulges or depressions. They are caused by environmental factors, seasonal changes and work level variations.

As this Horse Sport article reveals, more obvious grooves, ridges or bulges, often called fever rings, usually indicate recent health problems such as elevated temperature, infection, inflammation, and ingestion of toxins that affect the horse’s circulation and/or metabolism and, ultimately, hoof growth. The health challenge has almost always passed by the time the markings grow down enough to be seen. Mild rings won’t affect hoof strength but may cause chipping at the hoof tip.

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