Couple of questions,
what can be done for a horse with soft soles, and what is the main cause of it ?
And what you are basically saying is, it is best to stand a horse up more by having less toe and more heel .. correct ?
Basically the reason i am asking is i have a horse with constant feet problems ... he is very susceptible to soft soles, not sure if it has anything to do with the wet weather or more to do with the way i feed. The horse is constantly on founder guard to prevent laminitis which i think he may have a predisposition too, but even being on founder guard constantly he still suffers problems.
Hi You basically have a two part question here. Will do my best to anwer both. Grab a cuppa its long!
Sorry to hear you are having problems but you are not alone. Soft soles, absecessing and stone bruising are signs of deeper issues within the hoof. They cannot be addressed alone or by using additives to the feed.
Most racing TB's are continually suffering low grade chronic laminitis so founder guarde is good but it won't cure the problem as the reason for the laminitis needs to be addressed to not the symptoms. Nor will applying chemicals to the sole, some farriers still advise the use of formalin on soles .. Never Never use this as it is a preservative and will be absorbed by the sole and may even reach far into the hoof to the pedal bone and can cause it to develop necrotic tissue (dead tissue) which is a disaster.
Unless the horse is constantly standing in water or its own pee, and I mean for weeks and weeks then the sole shouldn't be soft unless there is an underlying reason causing it to be so.
Thin soles are an indication of the health of the whole hoof and always indicative of other areas that will also be compromised too. What is more serious is that the digital cushion above the sole will also be thin and comprised of fatty tissues now instead of fibro cartilage as it should be, and this fibro cartilage in the digital cushion is one of the major structures that allows the horse to be comfortable doing heel first stride landings which dissipate concussion at ground level and stop it impacting on bones, joints and tendons.
The sole is produced by a network of blood from the sole corium (a vast network of capillaries specially adapted for producing sole horn)that lay under the pedal bone. It grows downwards and forwards towards the toe and exfoliates with ground contact. It should be naturally thick and be gererated continually so that growth equals wear. In high performance barefoot hooves it is. I will post a pic that you might like to see of the sole of an endurance horse taken directly after an 80 klm endurance ride done without hoof boots.
The hoof walls were never designed by nature to be the major weight bearing structures and in shoes this is the role that we have imposed on them. The sole is supposed to play a role in weight bearing with every stride, as is the frog, and when the hoof is lifted off the ground with shoes (called peripheral loading by the researchers) this causes changes to the way that the blood circulates through the hoof and causes it to be shunted abnormally around in alternate pathways.
Because of the abnormal extreme pressures generated in the hoof capsule from being suspended off the ground there are many debilitating changes to the circulation and sole growth suffers greatly from this. Often what thought of as stone bruises are actually areas where pressure has caused a rupture of the capillaries in that area. Its a marvel of biological engineering that the hoof can re-route blood the way it does, or our horses hooves would drop off, but it happens at a price as its a healthy blood flow that brings oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the hoof but without optimum circulation growth slows and changes happen.
Getting thick soles requires the hoof to be returned to physiolgically correct functioning. In other words if they don't use it they loose it.
The horse needs to have a correct trim and access to movement over varying surfaces to stimulate growth so that the various part of the hoof that are now non functional can again play a role in the way the hoof functions.
The sticking point is that the horse needs to have his shoes removed and to have a correct barefoot trim applied. Most trainers will balk at this but unless they consider it permanent rehab. is impossible. A physiologically correct trim needs to be applied every four weeks. This is not the same as the trim a farrier applies and its not just filing the foot flat as if it were to be shod afterwards. If you do file the foot flat, the horse, because of the thin soles and dysfunctional digital cushion will just be very very sore and not want to move. Movement is a huge key to this rehab. process so if you make them sore and they don't want to move you are wasting your time. What is worse is I see farriers do this and they say "well I told you he couldn't go without shoes" as they have unknowlingly removed architecture from the hoof that the horse needs to remain sound!
For your 2nd question:
I am sure that your horse will have low heels too as the usual scenario is long toes, low heels, thin soles.
To re-establish robust hooves and a horse that moves in harmony with its natural biomechanics, they need to be returned to their physologically correct positions. To do this the leverage forces need to be removed from the toes. Long toes drag sole forward and keep them thin. Toe length also needs to be adjusted so that the hoof form is bought back to re-establish the natural fulcrum point directly under the centre of the pedal bone.
But it needs to be done over a few correct trims so not to make the horse sore. There are living landmarks that allow you to look at the underside of the hoof and to determine exactly how far the hoof has moved forward.
to what position you bring back the toe, they are as exact as if you exrayed the horse and a professional trimmer can do this. Sadly there is no quick fix for these problems and to recover permanently the source of these issues need to be removed, i.e. the shoes. But, if left they will just continue to happen as the health of the hoof continues to degenerate.
The picture is of Duo Park Ume an endurance horse who was one of the first horses in Australia to compete barefoot. She was diagnosed by two top vet hospitals as having bone spurs on the extensor processes of the pedal bone and a 90 percent tendon tear. Her owner is now a professional trimmer and says that she also had the other isues that most shod horses have, including thin soles. She was told by vets that she should be retired as a brood more as she would never again be sound.
The picture was taken after one of her first barefoot endurance rides. She as even done a 160 klm endurnace ride barefoot, no boots. As I said in healthy hooves sole thickness and sole wear is not an issue.
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