What Is Degloved Horse Hoof? Everything You Need To Know About Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

It is important to make sure your horse has healthy hooves in order to prevent any hoof issues.

If you’re looking to learn more about degloved horse hoof and how to prevent it from happening to your horse, you’re in the right place.

In this article, I will cover some key information about degloved horse hoof, including causes, treatment, and prevention.

Keep reading to find out more. 

What Is Degloved Horse Hoof?

Certain hoof conditions can be very serious and therefore require a lot of medical attention, and a degloved horse hoof is the most severe of them all. 

A degloved horse hoof is a gruesome situation when the entire outer part of a horse’s hoof detaches, leaving the hoof without a cap. When the outer cap comes away, the horse becomes lame as it cannot put even the slightest pressure on the limbs without being in pain. 

Although this rarely happens, it is an incredibly painful and serious injury when it does occur and will require immediate veterinary care. 

You need a strong stomach to deal with the sight of a degloved horse hoof. However, in this situation, there is no room for panic. It is a dire circumstance that requires your full attention, and your horse needs you to remain calm should it ever happen.

What Are The causes Of Degloved Horse Hoof?

Although this is a rare condition, a degloved horse hoof can occur for a variety of different reasons. 


Laminitis can be a cause for a degloved horse hoof. Laminitis is a common, extremely painful condition that frequently reoccurs in horses, donkeys, and ponies. 

This condition affects the tissues (laminae) bonding the hoof wall to pedal bone in the hoof, which can cause the pedal bone to sink or rotate within the hoof.

Laminitis can be caused by:

  • Diseases associated with inflammation 
  • Abrupt changes in diet
  • Disruption of blood flow to the sensitive and insensitive laminae
  • Repetitive endurance training

Signs of laminitis can include but are not limited to:

  • Lameness affecting at least two limbs
  • Shifting weight between feet when resting
  • Leaning back onto its heels to take the weight off 
  • The lameness becomes worse when the horse walks on hard ground or turns

Laminitis is a medical emergency that, in rare circumstances, can lead to a degloved horse hoof. If you suspect that your horse has laminitis, they should be seen by a vet so that they can receive treatment as soon as possible. 

However, it is important to know that if a horse experiences a degloved hoof due to laminitis, this is a grave sign and usually necessitates euthanasia.

Poor Hoof Health

Another cause for a degloved horse hoof is poor hoof health. Poor nutrition can affect a horse’s health, and in turn, can cause the horse hooves to become vulnerable to cracks, brittles, and breakage. 

Hoof health is equally important to prevent degloving from occurring.

A well-balanced diet is essential for your horse, as it provides nutrients that your horse requires for overall health and well-being, and these in turn will help fuel sound hoof growth.

In comparison, poor nutrition leads to the quality of your horse’s hooves to severely deteriorate. 

Inadequate dietary energy hinders normal hoof development. If your horse isn’t receiving a healthy, balanced diet, over time, cracks, brittles, and breakage can occur.

When this happens, your horse becomes much more prone to the deadly condition of degloving as a poor diet takes away their hooves’ natural strength.

Hoof health specifically can be maintained with nutritional hoof supplements, careful trimming, and proper shoeing.

Consistent Improper Shoeing 

While consistent improper shoeing cannot be the sole reason for the horse to lose its hoof cap, it can be a contributing factor to the weakening of your horse’s hooves.

Improper shoeing is worthy of a mention, as over time, it can make your horse’s hooves more susceptible to cracks and injuries that weaken their overall hoof health. As discussed above, poor hoof health can result in degloving in severe circumstances, so it is important to mention.

As well as causing your horse’s hooves to deteriorate, consistent improper shoeing can also contribute to making your horse lame.


An extreme hoof injury can also become a reason for degloving. Although this isn’t super common, horses and donkeys can endure injuries and it is possible for degloving to occur.

Degloving can occur when the horse unknowingly, while running at full speed, snare their hooves with a steel fence or solid immovable object.

Other hoof injuries or improper hoof trimming that cause brittles, cracks, and breakage in the hoof can also cause degloving.

Moreover, the injuries caused by vigorous movement and stepping on sharp objects can only detach the cap. 


It is also important to mention that degloved hoofs are much more common in foals than in older horses. 

Quite often, this can occur when a mature horse steps on the foal’s hoof. It’s a very painful experience and could cause severe long term damage, unless veterinary attention is sought immediately.

That being said, foals often have a better chance of making a full recovery than adult horses. Generally speaking, they tend to require less work and nursing, and grow the hoof capsule back faster.

They are also more tolerant of the lameness that fully grown horses are subjected to.

Treatment For Degloved Horse Hoof 

In the rare circumstance that a horse experiences a degloved horse hoof, it is an absolute emergency and you will need to contact your vet immediately. If not treated right away, a removed hoof capsule can be fatal. 

It is essential that you give your horse first aid treatment when it loses its hoof capsule before the vet arrives. They might suggest that you give your horse first aid treatment by covering your horse’s hoof with a towel or bandage for the time being.

However, this is an incredibly serious and painful injury for your horse, so you will need to listen to your vet’s instructions carefully and be incredibly gentle.

Once it has been degloved, the hoof cap can not be reattached to the horse’s feet so it is unfortunately incurable. It is important to know that it is rare for a horse to regrow the entire cap, and if your horse is to regrow its hoof capsule, it will be lame for the rest of its life.

A horse hoof without a cap is vulnerable to a variety of bacterial and fungal infections. The bare hoof and the underlying tissues are at great risk of developing infections resulting from the chapping drying effects of the elements.

As a result, the elements can make your horse’s hoof wall more susceptible to foot rot.

Some horses can recover from a degloved horse hoof. However, if the horse is able to regrow their hoof capsule, it will likely take at least a year.

It is also important to mention that horses that are able to grow back a hoof cap will likely be chronically lame, although some horses are able to return to being sound.

In addition to this, it will usually take an entire year for the regrowth of a hoof cap and it is very normal for there to be an abnormality in the new hoof capsule.

However, it’s important to recognize that a degloved horse hoof can be deadly. Even in an occasion where your horse has had immediate veterinarian treatment, the fact remains that it can still be fatal. Some horses might not be able to survive the trauma of losing the hoof capsule.

Key Information About Degloved Horse Hooves 

Degloving Is Incredibly Painful For Your Horse

There’s no way to sugar coat it. Degloving is one of the most painful things your horse can go through.

For context, the sensation of a degloved horse hoof can be compared to the pain humans feel when they accidentally walk on broken glass.

The Degloving Process Can Take Several Days

The degloving is a painful process that isn’t always quick. A horse’s hoof cap can become loose before falling off, and your horse can sometimes have to endure this process for several days. 

It begins with loosening the coffin bone and hoof wall bond. In the end, the entire capsule is detached from the horse’s feet, rendering the horse in an agonizing lame condition.

Degloving Can Result In Infection

Degloving is arguably the nastiest hoof injury your horse can endure. Bearing this in mind, it makes sense that when the upper protecting hoof cap falls off the inner sensitive structure can be vulnerable to infection. 

This is particularly true of bacterial and fungal infections. However, with the proper care, these infections can be easily avoided with first aid treatment. If the first aid treatment is not given the problem can get worse.

To prevent further damage, your vet will typically suggest spraying the hoof sealers and apply hoof pads or boots to your horse’s hoof.

Degloved Horse Hoof Is Rare In Grown Horses

While a degloved horse hoof is a medical emergency, it is relatively rare. The majority of horse owners understand the importance of maintaining your horse’s hooves.

Staying in tune with your horse’s hoof health is crucial. With the proper care, your grown horse is unlikely to endure a degloved horse hoof, and they are much more common in foals.

How Do You Prevent Degloved Horse Hoof?

A degloved horse hoof can be prevented by taking simple, yet effective measures that are fundamental to the overall health of your horse’s hooves.

Regular Check-Ups

Regular check-ups from your farrier will ensure that you are aware of the current condition of your horse’s hoof health and whether there are any issues or if you need to change anything in terms of their diet or shoeing.

In addition to this, regular check-ups will also allow you to catch the signs of a disease and will indicate whether your horse needs veterinarian intervention and treatment. 

Nutritionally Balanced Diet

A well-balanced diet is essential for your horse, as it provides them with the nutrients that they require for overall health and well-being, and these in turn will help fuel sound hoof growth. 

Professional, Regular Hoof Trimming

Hoof trimming is a sensitive, yet absolutely essential procedure that should only be performed by a qualified professional. To prevent cracks, brittles, and breakage that lead to degloving from occurring, hoof trimming must be performed properly and regularly.

It is also worth noting that your horse’s hooves can grow faster at certain times of the year when temperatures are warmer. You will need to consult with your vet and farrier about an ideal trimming/shoeing interval for your horse and adjust as necessary.

Proper Shoeing

Improper shoeing can contribute to the deterioration of your horse’s hooves and make them more susceptible to lameness. As a result, you will need to make sure that you opt for a well-trained, high quality farrier that knows how to properly shoe horses to help prevent this from occurring.

Nutritional Supplements

Providing your horse with nutritional supplements can not only improve the overall health of their hooves, but can also help in maintaining their hooves. The more energy you put into maintaining your horse’s hooves, the less-likely they are to get affected or deteriorate in quality.

Only Ride On The Appropriate Terrain

Riding your horse on the appropriate grounds can cause less-damage to the horse hooves while also keeping their hooves trimmed naturally.

Difficult terrain, such as a trail with ruts, rocks, or uneven surfaces can make your horse’s feet land at odd angles, which can lead to a sprain.

Bearing this in mind, you should try to avoid taking your horses on challenging terrain as much as possible to prevent injuries that render them more vulnerable to degloved hooves.

Mistakes Commonly Made In Hoof Care

To ensure your horse’s hooves are in the best possible condition, you will need to make sure that you avoid these common mistakes made when it comes to hoof care.

When it comes to caring for your horse’s hooves, you should never:

Neglect Daily Care

It sounds simple, but you need to be taking good care of your horse’s hooves everyday! This includes picking out your horse’s feet every day if possible. If you don’t regularly pick out your horse’s feet, it can lead to a variety of problems.

For instance, wet footing can cause your horse’s feet to become soft and unhealthy leading to conditions such as thrush.

In addition to this, rocks and sticks can become wedged in cracks and crevices of your horse’s hooves and lead to bruises or abscesses if you’re not careful.

Attempt To Do Everything Yourself

You may think that you’re responsible for everything when it comes to caring for your horse, but having a ‘do-it-yourself’ approach when it comes to your horse’s feet can cause more damage than good.

Make sure that you hire a trusted professional to trim your horse’s hooves. Even if you’ve been shown how or think you could take on the challenge to save a bit of money, damaging your horse’s hooves as a result isn’t worth the risk.

You should never try to shoe your own horse, either. You could end up seriously injuring your horse, which could lead to even more damage further down the road.

Choose A Mediocre Farrier

When choosing a farrier, you should always prioritize someone who is experienced and is highly competent at their job.

Along with your veterinarian, your farrier is one of the most important members of your horse’s health-care team. Bearing this in mind, you will want to do your research and only choose a farrier that you have full trust in to take care of your horse.

Your veterinarian is a good place to start when you’re searching for references for a farrier. If your vet recommends them and they have several years of experience, they’re much more likely to be a trustworthy choice.

Never opt for a farrier because their rates are cheaper than the rest. You shouldn’t take a gamble on your horse’s health just because someone offers you a cheaper price.

If you’re spending more money, chances are you’re making an investment that will save you on vet’s bills later down the line.

Is Degloving Curable?

No, a degloved horse cap is not curable. While it can be prevented from occurring with proper care and maintenance, once the hoof cap is removed, it cannot be reattached and might never grow back fully.

Is Degloving Painful For A Horse?

Yes, degloving is an incredibly painful and excruciating process for your horse. Sometimes it can last several days, and if they survive, they will require a long road of recovery.

This takes time and patience on your part as their owner, and you will need to make sure that you are able to take on the challenge to look after your horse properly during this challenging time.

Can A Horse Re-Grow A Hoof Cap?

Yes, it’s possible for a horse to re-grow a hoof capsule. That being said, a horse can regrow the entire cap but it won’t be the same as the old one. 

It will typically take a full year for a horse to re-grow the hoof, which will require intense nursing for the best result.

It’s also worth mentioning that it is a huge commitment to go through this process with a horse, and the regrown cap won’t make up for the fact that your horse will remain lame for the rest of its life.

In Summary

A degloved horse hoof is when the entire outer part of a horse’s hoof detaches, leaving the hoof without a cap.

Although this is a rare circumstance, a degloved horse hoof can occur for a variety of reasons, including poor health, laminitis, and injury.

While this can be fatal for some horses, other horses may actually survive after this injury but must re-grow the entire hoof capsule. 

In the majority of cases where a horse is able to re-grow their hoof cap, there will be some abnormality of the new hoof capsule and some degree of chronic lameness probably will result. 

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