Thin, sensitive soles can put your horse’s feet at risk for bruising and abscesses. Thin soles can be caused by over-trimming, and most practitioners now know not to try to trim an arch into a flat sole. Wet environments can overly soften the sole and contribute to thinning. Then, too, some horses are simply genetically predisposed to thin soles. Good nutrition is essential; make sure your horse receives enough biotin, methionine, lysine, copper, and zinc in his diet. Regular exercise to promote circulation is also critical, as are routine visits from a competent hoof-care professional. For extra help, see “Sole Solutions” at right.
[LEARN MORE: How to “read” your horse’s hooves.]
Tougheners: If, despite your best-management strategies, your horse still has thin, sensitive soles, consider a paint-on topical dressing to help toughen them up. There are excellent commercial products available for this purpose; some owners also find that Venice turpentine, 7% iodine, tea tree oil, and/or pine tar can be effective. (Be sure to apply such dressings to the sole only, as they can burn skin or dry out the hoof wall.)
Protection: If need be, consider extra protection for your horse’s thin soles, especially if your horse must travel over sand or gravel. Pour-in pads have proven helpful both in providing protection and supporting the frog in a way that encourages blood flow, leading to more growth and a thicker, healthier sole.
Comfort boots worn during stabling can offer the same circulation-promoting function when they adequately support the sole and frog of the foot.
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Commercial products designed to harden and reinforce the equine sole can be part of an effective strategy for dealing with your horse’s sensitive-sole problem. Properly used, such applications can help to create a tougher natural pad on the bottom of your horse’s feet.
[RELATED: How to diagnose equine corns.]