Coronary Band Look & Feel


The coronet, also called coronary band, is the junction between hoof wall and hairline. The hairline can give you some idea of hoof balance. Like all of the indicators, it should never be taken as a single, reliable measure of hoof balance or health.

A normal hairline tends to slope toward the ground in a straight line from toe to heel when viewed from the side. When seen from the front, the hairline should appear to be the same distance from the ground on each side. One common distortion is a hairline that is higher on one side. This can sometimes (but not always) indicate that the coffin bone may be correspondingly tipped to one side. For a good view of medial and lateral hairlines stand in front of your horse and crouch down so you get a “hoof’s-eye” view. The horse must be standing on a flat hard surface such as concrete or a rubber stall mat. Any uneven footing at all, even a dirt area that seems flat, can cause a misreading of this indicator.

Another frequently seen distortion is a hairline that is wavy or bulging upwards, usually in the quarters. Farriers often refer to this a “jammed” coronary band. There is no research on this and in fact it is controversial as to whether such a hairline indicates anything significant at all. Many farriers, however, believe that the bulging is caused by uneven wall length. Often the hairlines “settle,” that is, return to a normal straight alignment, after the foot has been re-balanced. There are times when an imbalance has been present for a long time and although proper trimming may balance the foot, the hairline might not change.

In addition to looking at the hairline angle, you can palpate the coronet for more information about hoof health. When you press into skin of the coronet, notice how the tissue feels under your finger pressure. Is it soft, hard, swollen, or uneven? Does the horse react with pain or discomfort when you press gently?

Tissue feel around the coronet is an important part of a complete hoof health exam. Your veterinarian may palpate the hairline for a routine exam and even more attention is paid to small details of coronet palpation in a diagnostic acupuncture exam. You may notice differences between the feet or inconsistent tissue feel around the coronet in one foot. You might see these tissue changes normalize after your horse is trimmed or shod.

There is no textbook ideal for coronet tissue feel. The important thing for you to know is what is normal for your horse. If you get into the habit of checking the coronet every time you groom the horse, you will get a feel for normal. Then you can monitor any changes that may happen from work or shoeing. Once you start paying attention to this kind of detail you will notice that your horse’s coronary band has a lot of “personality”. By this I mean you can identify different contours, textures, temperature changes and other subtle characteristics that can be early indicators of stress in the hoof. Minor imbalance may cause swelling or other coronet alterations. If you notice it early, you may be able to make changes that will help your horse stay sound.

Remember that signs of tissue stress can reflect excess force on normal tissue, which means that cutting back on your horse’s training schedule can sometimes resolve the problem. Other times signs of stress reflect normal force on abnormal tissue, which means you need to change something about the alignment or force on the hoof. Your vet and/or farrier evaluation may be needed to fix that problem.

I will discuss tissue feel again when we cover acupuncture for the hoof. Once you start learning about tissue feel around the coronet you may want to apply the same techniques and monitoring to the rest of the limb and eventually to your entire horse! For now, I encourage you to get started by observing and palpating your horse’s coronet on a regular basis. If you can make notes of what you find, patterns may start to emerge that will offer guidance as you continue to fine tune your horse’s training, shoeing and health care regimen.


Copyright © 2012 ~ Dr. Lisa Lancaster DVM, WDAA Blog Author



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