Craig H. Wood

Craig Wood

As Interim Assistant Director of Extension for Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Horticulture, Craig  provides statewide leadership and guidance in Extension programs offered through Kentucky Cooperative Extension in the three subject areas. Craig has a technical and professional background in horses and in developing and delivering Extension, research and instructional material.

Craig has been associated with the University of Kentucky and Cooperative Extension since 1985 when he started work as the College of Agriculture’s Extension horse specialist. In that role, he …

Horse Behavior at Foaling Time

Behavioral traits associated with parturition (the birth process) are deeply rooted in the evolutionary development of horses. A basic assumption is that horses have evolved behavioral strategies that ensure their survival. During the birth process, both the dam and her offspring are in a weakened state and are susceptible to attack by predators. The mare takes steps to increase their safety during parturition. In general, these steps include locating a safe site for foaling, quickening the process, minimizing evidence of …

Common Hoof Problems

Many problems can occur within the horse’s hoof. This article addresses common hoof problems, including abcesses, cracks, sole bruises, and corns.



Abscess is an infection of the sensitive tissue of the foot. Abscesses result in varying degrees of lameness, depending on the severity of the abscess. Symptoms include the hoof being hot and an increased pulse. The abscess will take the path of least resistance and migrate up the hoof and break out at the coronary band. Once …

Blood Pumping Mechanism of the Hoof

Blood is pumped from the heart through arteries to the hoof and is assisted in its return through a “pumping mechanism” in the hoof. This mechanism is necessary due to the position of the hoof in relation to the heart. There are no muscles in the lower leg or hoof to aid in the return of venous blood to the heart. Thus, the hoof has to pump venous blood back to the heart.

An extensive network of veins called a …

Evaluating the Hoof and Trim Job

Ensuring that a horse’s hooves are properly trimmed and balance can help to prevent lameness. This article discusses how to evaluate the hoof and how it is trimmed.

To evaluate the hoof, watch the horse move, and look for limb interference and faulty movement. Observe the position of the hooves when the horse is standing squarely on the ground. The hooves should be uniform and balanced. There should not be any flaring in the quarters or curling of the toe.…

Bones of the Hoof

Labelled bones of the Horse's hoof


Long pastern bone. The long pastern bone is located between the fetlock and pastern joint. The long pastern bone should be about one-third the length of the cannon bone. The function of the long pastern bone is to increase the flexibility of the fetlock joint and reduce concussion. The length, flexibility, and slope of the pasterns strongly influence the smoothness of the horse’s gait.

Short pastern bone. The short pastern bone is located between the long pastern bone and …

How a Horse’s Hoof Grows

Hoof growth is one of the most important considerations in hoof physiology. Hoof growth occurs from the coronary band down toward the toe. The average hoof grows 1/4 to 3/8 inch per month. Since the average hoof is 3 to 4 inches in length, the horse grows a new hoof every year.

Rapidly growing hooves are considered to be higher quality and easier to keep properly trimmed and shod. Factors that effect hoof growth are age, season, irritation or injury …

Sensitive Structures of the Hoof

The sensitive structures are so called because they contain many nerves and blood vessels. Injury to them will cause pain and bleeding. Sensitive structures are located under every part of the horny hoof. Each hoof structure has a corresponding sensitive structure.

Sensitive coronary band. The sensitive coronary band is located around the upper border of the hoof under its junction with the skin. The function of the sensitive coronary band is to provide hoof growth. It is also the primary …

Pinworms in horses

Internal parasites are small organisms that live a portion of their life cycle in a host animal, the horse in this case. They live in internal organs, body cavities, and tissues while gaining their nutritive source by feeding on the host animal. The horse is affected by many different species of parasites. The nature and extent of damage varies with the parasite.

Parasite infestation causes loss of nutrients or blood from the host, resulting in serious medical problems. Horses heavily …

Basic first aid kit for horses

First aid kits can be purchased from horse stores, but they can be pricey. A first aid kit can be easily compiled at minimal cost. It is a good idea to keep two first aid kits. One should be kept in the barn or tack room as the primary kit and should be easily accessible in case of emergency. The second kit should contain the bare essentials and be portable so it can be taken on rides.

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