Understanding the Equine Foot Part 8: THE SOLE

This video is the 3rd to last in this educational video series of "Understanding the Equine Foot". If you've not seen the previous videos I encourage you strongly to do so. You can start here: PART 1

As owners, we rely on our professionals to take care of those things outside of our chosen capabilities with concern for our horses' health and well being. Unfortunately, many of our professionals are so busy that they are unable to spend time keeping up with current education and information.  There are only so many hours in a day. So they rely on the information they learned in school and what they learn in the field. 

We, as owners, "are responsible for that which we've tamed". (The Little Prince) 150%. Our domestic horses rely on US for their total health and well being. We owe them the loyalty to learn as much as we possibly can about how to care for them in the best way possible. 

While we may not have the skills to take a pair of nippers or a rasp to our horses' hooves, we CAN educate ourselves as to what HEALTHY hooves should look like and how they should function. In doing so we can then see if the care given to the hooves is the best it can be. 

We have the responsibility to know the hooves, "inside-out" .. that is, not just a pretty hoof capsule but the FOOT of the hoof -- that which is inside the hoof capsule. That is the foundation of the capsule and that is what the capsule protects ... the foot. 

That is why I've posted this series of videos so we can all learn from Linda Harris' amazing dissections and interpretations of exactly what is doing what INSIDE the pretty hoof capsules.  That way we have a more solid foundation of what, exactly, is happening to the hooves.

You may have a horse that is balky, or spooky, or owie on gravel or rocks or even downright lame. Refusals to jumps, refusals for mounting, girthiness or cinchiness or even bucking and bolting; shying away from jumps or rearing and downright aggressiveness. All of these 'symptoms' may be indicative of pain in the hooves. Those extreme behaviors are just that - SYMPTOMS. They tell us that the horse is not comfortable in some way. Too many times the discomfort is coming from the hooves. But wait ... you say ... the hooves LOOK pretty and they LOOK well formed!  Well, I'm here to tell you that pretty is as pretty does. If one does not understand the inner FOOT of the hoof then how can anyone make an apt 'diagnosis' as to what may be causing the discomfort? The outside of the capsule tells a story -- one needs to learn to 'read' that story to understand the full foundation (the foot of the hoof). 

For the last 20 years, and then some, I've worked with severe pathological situations with equine hooves. Many, too many times, I was called in as 'the last resort' - the horse was appointed to be euthanized or retired permanently or sent off to the auction because the farrier or vet diagnosed "Navicular" or "Laminitis". The truth being, yes, perhaps the horses DID have "Navicular" (think of "syndrome" vs. "disease") or yes, the horse WAS laminitic or even severely foundered. 

Were these diagnoses reason for suggested euthanasia or being sent off to the auction? 


Once it was understood exactly what was happening INSIDE THE FOOT then these lives were spared and 99% of those horses went 'back into work'. Not all went back to their former disciplines but they came sound and because 'usable' and fit horses once again, able to give their owners years more of pleasure and loyalty. 

BUT -- it required an understanding of the EQUINE FOOT ... the foot being what is INSIDE the capsule that we like to see all pretty and polished. 

So it is my hope that you have watched the former videos in this series and have learned from them so YOU can be a better advocate for your own horses. I hope that, maybe, you've even shared then with your own hoof care provider and your veterinarian. Most farriers, trimmers and veterinarians simply do not have the time to continue on with further education while running full-time practices. So perhaps these videos have lent a bit of positive information to their repertoire of hoof education so that they can help that many more horses in the future. AND ... perhaps not be so quick as to speak the words, "I'm so sorry but there is nothing more we can do for your horse ..." 

We are very blessed to have access to this learning opportunity from Linda J. Harris. She has devoted hundreds of hours and her heart to exploring the inside of the horse's hoof so she can help improve horses' lives and help to spare some by sharing what she's learned with us. 

Here is the 3rd to the last video in this series. Enjoy! 


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 hoof care 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 -- gwen.santagate@gmail.com or telephone in the US (239)-573-9687. For further information please click here: www.thepenzancehorse.com

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