Proper trimming and awareness of a horse’s sole thickness is vital to maintaining optimal hoof health. Whether a horse is growing back over-trimmed soles, is genetically predisposed, if it’s an older horse or other environmental factors, it’s important that hoof care professionals examine the conditions horses are in because it directly impacts sole health. Similar to a fingernail on a fingertip, soles protect the feet from outside harm, and having thin soles is similar to having thin or even no fingernails, making the feet more vulnerable to injury or blisters on abrasive ground.
The surface a horse stands on can have a considerable impact on its hoof health. Depending on trimming procedures and how active a horse is, a horse’s hooves can change and may require extra attention. If neglected, a horse may experience sole deterioration or other harmful consequences. To maintain optimal hoof health, it is important for horse owners to consider the terrain a horse lives on (i.e. gravel, sandy or grassy ground) to avoid injuries or infections.
How a Hard Stomping Grounds Impact Hooves
Because changing terrains have a different impact on the sole, examining how a horse’s home turf affects its hooves is crucial when looking at overall hoof health.
Seasonal weather changes have a major effect on a horse’s hoof health. Depending on the time of year, horses’ hooves change and may require extra attention and treatment. Neglecting environmental factors can lead to sole deterioration or other harmful consequences. When it comes to a horse’s environment, there are two main seasonal factors that impact hoof health: temperature and moisture.
How the Changing Temperatures Impact the Hoof Cavity
Depending on the weather, the speed at which a hoof grows can be affected. A cooler climate causes foot growth to slow down, while warmer temperatures allow for normal sole development. Changes in growth impact a horse’s hoof condition.
In this video, I talk about points of a trim. What I mean when I say points of a trim is, where the coffin bone is in relation to the toe, where the widest point of the foot is in relation to the toe and the heel, and where the bars are. This clip goes over what to look for and what to be aware of when trimming a foot.
Quarter cracks and coronary band problems can be significant issues to deal with. When you see a deviation in the foot, it is because of pressure, which must be removed. Watch this clip to see how you can remove pressure and shoe a foot that has coronary band issues.
When bars are left too long, they will begin to grow into the foot and start to cause problems. Trimming the foot and getting the bars back to their point of origin will help you get a stronger foot with better structure. It will also allow the back of the foot to function normally. In this video clip, I go over this process and show you where the bars should be after a trim.
Proper trimming and awareness of a horse’s sole thickness is vital to maintaining optimal hoof health. Whether a horse is growing back over-trimmed soles or it is genetically predisposed to thin soles, it’s important that hoof care professionals examine the conditions horses are in because it directly impacts sole health. Think of soles like calluses on feet – if you’re active, calluses protect your feet from getting blisters. If calluses are removed from 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 astute to the conditions the horses are in.
Successfully transitioning from shod to unshod can be a simple process if done correctly. The way to achieve this is to get rid of muscle memory and keep in mind that it is a mistake to trim like you would if you were going to put a shoe back on. In this video, I go over what I do when transitioning a horse to barefoot.
Proper trimming is vital to preventing lameness and injury for horses. Keeping a horse’s bars aligned and healthy are dependent upon trimming as well. Bars appear as white lines along the frog and are made up of lamina. Think of the bars like plastic straws – if you push down on the straw from the top, it stays strong and holds its form. If a straw gets too long, it will likely bend with any pressure that’s applied and become weaker. In order to keep bars aligned and healthy, hooves need to be trimmed and collected on a regular basis. Without healthy bars, a horse can develop what’s called a “stacked sole,” or worse, a bruised sole or abscess.
Recently we had a request on Facebook that asked to show the proper way to pick up a horses' foot. There are certain things to know before you pick up a hoof. You want to be able to calm a nervous horse as well as keep yourself and the horse comfortable. This latest video clip gives some tips on how to accomplish this.