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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Martin

Hoof Care Glossary

Many terms in hoof care are misunderstood and misused. This can lead to problems for farriers, owners, and (most importantly) horses. Communicating clearly is important to explain what is happening with your horse and how to help them get back to their best. 

Left/ Right 

Whenever you are talking about left and right in reference to your horse, it should always be from the horse’s perspective, not left and right as you look at it from the human perspective.

Full Set

Shoes are present on all four feet of the horse.

Half Set

Shoes are present only on two of the horse's feet.


When the farrier reuses the same shoes on the same horse after trimming and balancing the foot.

Clips: Toe Clip, Quarter/Side Clips

Clips are protrusions from a horseshoe that fit along the hoof wall. A single clip on the front of the shoe is a toe clip. If a shoe has 2 clips- one on each side of the foot, they are called “quarter clips” or “side clips”.

Drilled and Tapped

When a horseshoe is "drilled and tapped," it means that holes have been drilled into the shoe, and threads have been cut into these holes to accommodate screws or studs. This process allows for additional traction or support to be added to the horseshoe, enhancing the horse's grip and stability, particularly in challenging terrain or conditions.

Sprung Shoe

A shoe that has become partially detached.


An abscess is a fluid filled void in the foot caused by some sort of trauma. The accumulation of fluid creates pressure which is painful for the horse. Think similarly to a blister which you may have. They have many causes and can be treated differently depending on the location and severity


A specific type of abscess that occurs within the white line. They are typically caused by sand or other debris working its way into the white line from the ground. Gravels generally “blow out” through the coronary band in their own time and are less severe than other types of abscesses. 


Corns form in the heel of the foot. They start as a bruise and can develop into an abscess if left not addressed. Corns can vary greatly in the level of discomfort a horse feels. 


Thrush is an infection of the frog tissue. It has a strong smell familiar to most horse owners, and is caused by a variety of anaerobic bacteria that are present almost everywhere a horse steps. Thrush is typically not serious unless left untreated or occurs in an immunocompromised horse. Thrush is one of the most overused terms by horse owners. A smelly foot does not automatically mean thrush. Flakey soles do not mean thrush. If it isn’t in the frog, it isn’t thrush. 

White Line Disease, WLD

WLD is a bacterial infection that exists inside the lamina of a hoof. The bacteria eats away at the lamina leaving a chalky residue and creating a void. If left untreated, WLD can undermine the structure of an entire hoof and lead to catastrophic failure. The typical diagnosis of WLD is done by probing the white line with a horseshoe nail. If it easily travels more than ½” deep, the hoof should be treated accordingly. 

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