Regaining Sole Thickness with Proper Trimming and Pour-in Pads
By Tab Pigg
Proper trimming and awareness of the horse’s sole thickness is vital to maintaining optimal hoof health. Whether the horse is growing back over-trimmed soles or is genetically predisposed to thin soles, it’s important that hoof care professionals examine the conditions the horse is kept in because environment directly impacts sole health.
Think of soles as calluses on feet – if you’re active, calluses protect your feet from getting blisters. If calluses are removed from your feet when you’re active or in abrasive conditions, the feet develop blisters and become painful. In order to keep soles in healthy condition, hoof care professionals need to be familiar with the conditions the horse is kept in. If the horse has naturally thin soles, different methods can be applied to help the horse regain sole thickness, depending on its environment.
Symptoms of Thin Soles
Lameness is a key sign of thin soles. If the condition isn’t diagnosed, the horse is often uncomfortable when walking, especially on hard, abrasive surfaces, and 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 conditions, such as wet-to-dry?
Symptoms of unhealthy soles can be addressed so the condition improves. Here are some examples of potential causes:
- Changing Environments: A wet environment weakens the sole, and when the sole is moist, abrasion from rough surfaces quickly wears down the sole.
- Genetic Predisposition: Some horses, such as thoroughbreds, have naturally thin soles, so it’s important that hoof care professionals be aware of this natural tendancy and avoid overtrimming during routine visits and shoeing.
- Over-Trimming: Hoof care professionals should be mindful of whether a horse has thick or thin soles, and of the conditions the horse lives in. This helps to determine how much to trim and the padding needed for the horse to remain comfortable and healthy.
Pour-in pads can help to protect the remaining sole and allow more sole to grow. When the soles are sealed off with pour-in pad material, they have a better chance of retaining thickness and regrowing. Depending on the moisture in the horse’s environment, a variety of pour-in pad materials 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 soles can continue to regrow.
Soles protect the horse’s hoof cavities, thus it is vitally important that they are examined thoroughly to establish a sole-maintenance regimen. If the soles are not examined, trimmed or maintained properly, lameness can result, affecting the horse’s ability to do many daily activities. With proper and consistent trimming and treatment, the horse’s hooves will maintain healthy sole thickness.
Talk with your farrier or veterinarian about your horse’s soles, and how pour-in pad materials can be a helpful tool for gaining and maintaining sole thickness.
This information was contributed by Vettec Hoof Care.
For more information, please visit www.vettec.com.
Main Photo: iStock/PeopleImages