Strategies to Manage Thin-Soled Horses

Thin soles can occur for a number of reasons, but a good management plan can help these horses remain active and comfortable

Pictured Above: It’s difficult to judge a foot when looking at photos, but this sole is flat and even with the wall. The sulcus around the frog is shallow and the frog itself doesn’t appear to have much depth. Photos: Dr. Amy Rucker

Thin-soled horses can be a challenge. Thin soles chronically plague some horses, likely an inherited trait, while others can experience an acute case as the result of the environment, a recent trimming or as a side effect of another foot pathology, such as laminitis.

“It can be difficult to guess sole depth when trimming horses,” says Amy Rucker, a Columbia, Mo., equine veterinarian. “Sometimes I get distracted trying to achieve ‘balance,’ removing wall cracks, or making a foot look ‘pretty.’ The horse prefers mass to pretty. Radiographs can take the guesswork out of judging sole depth.”

One of Rucker’s clients recently experienced how easy it can be to misjudge a horse with thin soles. A Thoroughbred gelding used as a hunter and for light trail riding was unwilling to walk to the barn and eat after a trim and reset. The horse had no previous soundness issues. The owners called the farrier, who insisted it was not the shoes…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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