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Coronary Band Dystrophy in Horses
Bob Judd, DVM, DABVP (Equine Medicine), DABVP (Canine and Feline Practice)
Published: October 11, 2022

A condition newly recognized in horses is called coronary band dystrophy. The coronary band is the area at the top of the horse’s hoof that separates the hoof wall from the skin. Dystrophy in this case refers to a disorder that causes the tissue at the top of the hoof wall to weaken or waste away.

Several diseases can affect this area but with coronary band dystrophy the horse’s hair above the coronary band sticks out straight instead of laying down against the skin. There is crusting, scaling, redness, and ulceration of the tissue.

A hard band of tissue will develop at the coronary band and the hoof wall will stop growing, which causes the growth rings on the dorsal hoof wall to be tightly packed. The crusting and scaling will extend down the hoof wall and can even involve the frog. An ulcerous condition called canker can develop. Some horses will be lame.

The disease usually occurs in heavier breeds of horses, like warmbloods.

A biopsy is the best method of diagnosing the condition, but biopsy sites are difficult to heal so the diagnosis is usually made with an exam given by your veterinarian. If coronary band dystrophy is diagnosed, prednisolone, a strong anti-inflammatory steroid given orally, is often part of the treatment, as the disease is believed to be immune-mediated. 

Antibiotics are usually used to treat potential low-grade infections, and an NSAID may be prescribed for pain.

Do not add any additional medications to your horse's treatment plan unless your veterinarian has instructed you to do so, no matter what condition your horse is being treated for. 

Treatment also involves removing shoes from your horse and clipping the hair at the coronary band. Your horse’s heels should be trimmed on the same plane as the frog and all loose and unhealthy tissue should be removed with a rasp.

Cleaning the area daily and applying a cortisone ointment usually is an effective treatment. If canker is involved, treatment of the diseased tissue with cryotherapy is usually needed.

Although the condition usually heals with treatment, the treatment is time-consuming and requires your commitment.

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