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Why would he suddenly become thin soled?

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  • Why would he suddenly become thin soled?

    My 15 yr old Appy has suddenly become very thin soled in his front feet.

    He's always had excellent feet. Barefoot, though a bit sensitve on hard rocks or gravel and because of this I've used hoof boots for trail riding.

    At first we thought he was abscessing, then realized he was quite bruised and thin in the sole area of both fronts...backs are fine.

    For the time being we have put him in a flat shoe with pads on his fronts.

    Quite frankly, he has my farrier and me stumped. We can't figure out how he's managed to be so bruised or why his soles have become so thin and sensitive. Granted his paddock is quite muddy and perhaps that has contributed to some softening? But it's not any different than what he's experienced in the past.

    We changed his diet about 8 weeks ago in that we've added beet pulp to his feed and he's getting some alfalfa hay to supplement the poor quality fescue he's been getting (I board and the hay that's supplied is not of the best quality). But that started well before his last trim and we didn't notice anything out of the ordinary then .. Ideas? Possible causes?
    A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.

  • #2
    It is the dampness/mud. Also, circulation in older horses can tend to become less functional, effecting the health and growth of the feet. If the dampness gets in under the pads, this can be a further problem. I hope the feet were well sealed before they went on.

    Horse's feet are not well designed to deal with wet conditions.


    • #3
      UGH..here in the swamps of Fl I have dealt with this a LOT.
      Soft soles wear away or "debride" as I call it...easiest way to explain it.
      I used pour in pads with shoes for about 3-4 months and then lots of coppertox and other sole hardeners.
      If you can get the formaldehyde mixture it works well too.
      "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night"


      • #4
        Consider also that he may be getting a bit metabolic or early Cushings in his mid teens. Any of those problems can cause a variety of hoof trouble.


        • #5
          Now are you SURE the sole is actually thinner? Have you got Xrays ,ideally to compare with from some previous time?
          Or are the soles perhaps just over moisturized and softer?

          My first thought was to ditto Daydream believer. Horses with metabolic issues have weakened connective tissue and therefore can can sink the bone column inside the foot so slowly that is sneaks up on them. The horse is of the age to begin to show subtle signs of metabolic syndrome so check his body condition, particularly look for the telltale cresty neck, fatty deposits under his eyes, and fat pads on the tailhead.

          I would recommend getting some good quality radiographs with markers on the foot including one exactly at the hairline, to see of the sole is just thin without bone sinking, or if the bone has sunk.

          If not metabolic issues, then it may be that his soles have just gotten soft, from the mud. Mud and rocks ara really bad combination .
          Pads alone are a temporary solution only and must be packed with a poultice/drying agent underneath to prevent worse hydration of the soles.
          Patty Stiller CNBBT,CNBF,CLS, CE
          Natural Balance Certified Lameness Specialist ,instructor.


          • Original Poster

            Patty: Interesting thought...however, in this case there is nothing to compare to...in the 13 years I've had him, my gelding has never been lame. He's never had an x-ray of any type. Though it probably wouldn't hurt to get a set to have a baseline available.

            His soles were softer than normal. By the time I could get the farrier out, he'd been back in the stall and in the dry for a week. We initially thought he was abscessing in his right front, so I'd been doing Epsom salt soaks.

            Having trimmed this horse for over 10 years, I trust my farrier implicitly and if he says the soles seem thinner to him, then I'd say he's probably right.

            As to Cushings...I suppose it is possible, however, he exhibits no other signs. Vet gave him a clean bill of health in late August. If the problem continues, it would probably be worth investigating further.

            Granted I don't have the most ideal conditions for him. He's been living in a 30m round pen with a run-in stall for the past 2 years. Pasture board is out (he's too much of a bully with other horses), and living in the round pen cut his cribbing down to almost zero. (He does get grass turnout, but not nearly as much as I'd like).

            Lately it has been very rainy and his round pen has been quite muddy. Owner is an old crudmudgen and won't allow me to do any upgrades to the roundpen to improve the footing. But the facility is convenient and has other amenities that I aren't available in my area.

            Thanks for the responses. You've definitely given me some fuel for thought.
            A poorly fitted saddle hampers both horse and rider.


            • #7
              Even so, if you get rads marked the way Patty described, the vet should be able to tell whether P3 has sunk inside the hoof capsule. Comparative rads would be great, but failing that, the vet should be able to tell how low the coffin bone is now if the hoof is well marked.

              Esco Buff has some info showing how to mark the hoof to determine distal descent if you want to see a pictorial representation. IME, vets don't always look for sinking when checking for founder.

              I'm hoping it is just the wet. But if you find out there is something else going on, then you can plan accordingly.
              "Passion without knowledge is a runaway horse."