Dr. Suzanne has seen some very lame horses recently. Many of these cases have been due to thin soles and inflamed feet.
Think of it like this: a horse having thin soles is similar to a person having very short fingernails: it makes the horse's feet (or the tips of your fingers!) very uncomfortable to use and much more vulnerable to injury or blisters.
What causes a horse to have thin soles, and what can you do about it?
- Wisconsin has had a very hot, dry summer this year. The cases Dr. Suzanne has been seeing could be due to the hard, dry conditions of most pastures right now. When a horse stomps their feet to get rid of the flies and connects with hard, dry ground, this may cause damage to the horse’s hooves.
- Wet environments can weaken the sole of the horse’s hoof. When the sole is moist, it can wear down quickly from abrasion on rough surfaces.
- It could be in their DNA. Some horses naturally have thin soles.
- Thin soles could be a result of over-trimming.
- It might be her age. Around the age of eight or nine, hoof growth starts slowing down. It can become difficult for sole thickness to keep up with the wear and tear of your horse’s hooves on ground surfaces.
It’s important to discuss individual concerns with your farrier or Dr. Suzanne. We’re seeing a greater number of horses needing padded shoes than usual this year. Whether her soles are thin due to excessive stomping on hard ground, over-trimming, or genetic predisposition, there are corrective measures that you can take if your horse has thin soles. Dr. Suzanne or your farrier can advise you on your best options.
There are also supplements that support good hoof health by providing nutrients that are beneficial to strong and healthy hoof growth. For my horses, I use a great pelleted supplement called Tribute Tough As Nails, and I recommend this to my clients often.
Adding Tough As Nails to your horse’s diet provides a boost in biotin, which has been shown to improve hoof quality. It also increases your horse’s intake of sulfur-containing amino acids which help improve hoof growth and provides your horse with additional calcium, which is involved in the cross-linking of hoof proteins. I like that Tough As Nails has added organic trace minerals that have more bioavailability than inorganic sources that are in similar products. And, for those of you who have horses with persistent Thrush or White Line Disease, Tough As Nails has a higher concentration of iodine, which can act as an anti-fungal agent.
Dells Equine Vet carries Tough As Nails in our store. Schedule a time to stop by and pick some up!