by Tabb Pigg
How to thicken horse soles
Proper trimming and awareness of a horse’s sole thickness are vital to maintaining optimal hoof health.
Whether a horse is growing back over-trimmed soles or it is genetically predisposed to thin soles, it’s important that hoof care professionals examine the conditions horses are in because it directly impacts sole health.
Think of soles like calluses on feet – if you’re active, calluses protect your feet from getting blisters. If calluses are removed from feet when you’re active or in abrasive conditions, the feet develop blisters and become painful. In order to keep a horse’s soles in healthy condition, hoof care professionals need to be astute to the conditions the horse’s hooves are in. If a horse naturally has thin soles, there are different methods they can apply to help a horse to regain sole thickness depending on its environment.
Lameness is a key sign of thin horse soles. If the condition isn’t diagnosed, horses are often uncomfortable walking, especially on hard, abrasive surfaces. Some develop sole bruising. When these symptoms are prevalent, it’s important to examine the soles.
Are the soles soft and flexible when touched? Has the horse been exposed to changing living conditions, such as wet to dry?
Causes of Unhealthy Hoof Soles
Symptoms of unhealthy soles can be addressed so the condition can be maintained and corrected. Below are a few examples of some potential causes:
Environmental: A wet environment weakens the sole, and when the sole is moist, abrasion from rough surfaces wears down the sole quickly.
Genetics: Some horses, like Thoroughbreds, have thin soles naturally. It’s important that hoof care professionals are aware of and avoid over trimming during routine visits and shoeing.
Over Trimming: Hoof care professionals should be aware of whether a horse has thick or thin soles and the horse’s living conditions. This helps determine how much to trim and what padding is needed for the horse to remain comfortable and healthy.
Managing Hoof Soles
To regain and maintain sole thickness, pour-in pads can be a helpful way to protect the remaining sole and allow more sole growth. When the soles are sealed off with pour-in pad material, they have a better chance of retaining thickness and re-growing. Depending on the moisture in a horse’s environment, there are different pour-in pad materials that can be beneficial.
Vettec Equi-Pak is soft enough that it will not irritate the sensitive area if the horse is lame. Equi-Pak is fast-setting, soft pad material that bonds directly to the sole and frog, and improves the depth of the sole.
Equi-Pak CS is also a fast-setting soft instant pad material and is infused with copper sulfate to minimize the chance of bacteria getting trapped within the hoof, which is common in moist environments. Equi-Pak CS provides extra protection and support during wet seasons, and also bonds to the sole to protect it from abrasion so that the horse’s soles can continue to regrow.
Soles protect the horse’s hoof cavities, thus it’s vital they are maintained and examined thoroughly to determine a sole-maintaining regimen. If the soles are not examined, trimmed or maintained properly, it can cause lameness, affecting a horse’s ability for daily activity. Consistent, proper trimming and treatment, allows a horse to maintain healthy sole thickness.
Talk with a farrier or veterinarian about your horse’s soles, and how pour-in pad materials may be a helpful tool for gaining and maintaining sole thickness.