Finding the True Sole of the Horse's Hoof

Good Day to you all! 

A few weeks back I shared the full series of Understanding the Equine Foot videos from Linda Harris for several weeks and I thought maybe another educational video for this week might be good. 

With spring upon us in the US many struggle with wet hooves and hooves that are thin soled from winter, wet wear and overgrowth.  I've had numerous enquiries lately from people who wonder why their horses are sore this spring. I look at the hooves and find thin soles ... thin soles caused by incorrect trims or lack of hoofcare during the winter months. 

This video explains one way that Linda helped her horse to grow thicker soles. I'm a firm believer in WHOLE health for the WHOLE horse so would incorporate other aspects with the correct trimming ... feeding horses in the dead of winter can certainly be a daunting task and finding fresh, wholesome raw fruits and vegetables to feed horses can also be a daunting task as well as a costly one. But I digress here - feeding the hooves is worthy of an article or two or three all on its own.  

I have used casting, as Linda does here in this video with remarkable results. Positive results in both the comfort of the horse as well as the development of healthy horn that is able to withstand the thousands of pounds of pressure that an active horse will exert onto each loading hoof. Sometimes it takes t.i.m.e. and other times, it takes - time. This particular horse only needed 2 1/2 weeks to develop some solid, thick sole.

Why is the sole so important? I CRINGE when I see trimmers and farriers knifing away sole from the hooves. CRINGE, literally. My stomach even flip-flops because the SOLE is what protects the inner foot/Coffin Bone! Many are not even aware of what comprises the actual sole. And, many, still, do not know the role that the sole plays in overall hoof health and soundness. When the soles are trimmed out for shoes until it 'gives with thumb pressure' ... oh my! (and yes, I know there are teachings that teach to trim out sole until it gives to thumb pressure) ... or, contrarily, leaves so much old sole that the horse is sore, ... I just cringe.

Here is an illustration that shows where, in the equine hoof, the sole lies ... the gray area depicts the coffin bone in the foot (marked P3) and covering that area, externally, is ... SOLE.

Here is another illustration that labels the sole: 

Now, as Linda points out, if sole material can be EASILY removed then yes, remove that material. If it is a struggle to remove sole material then please, please, please ... (and this is generally speaking; not for pathological hooves which require more discerning and careful treatment) ... leave it alone. Do NOT knife out sole or bar material that is strongly attached to the hoof. If your farrier or trimmer starts to knife it out and, clearly, struggling (aka ... not peeling it off with fingers or mere 'skimming' of the knife) ... kindly point out that you'd rather he or she not do that. 

At any rate, without going through a complete tutorial here, watch the video and know that I am always available for questions. If you can't understand why your horse is tender on rocks or gravel or even on grass, you can reach me by email: or simply comment below and I'll be able to help you. 






Gwenyth Browning Jones Santagate is the best-selling author of 10 Secrets to Healthy Hooves as well as a noted author for various international equine publications including The Horses Hoof, Equine Wellness, Natural Horse Planet as well as a contributing author for the 2001 United States Federal Mounted Border Patrol Training Manual. For the last 37+ years, she has maintained healthy hooves with natural trimming on thousands of horses and specialized in pathological rehabilitation hoofcare for the last 20 years. She and her husband John keep a small herd of their own equine in SW Florida and continue to offer consults for horses in need. You can email to Gwen -- or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here:






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