The Sole

Is your farrier hacking away at the live sole of your horse in order to achieve concavity? A horse’s sole needs to be thick. If your sole is not thick it can not help support your horses weight. Without the support of the sole, your horse’s skeletal system will primarily be held up away from the ground by the laminae, but only for a short time. It won’t be long before the coffin bone will sink down pushing the sole down with it. This is called distal descent.

Long hooves that make the horse look as if he is standing on large soda cans can have distal descent. In natural hoof care it is very common to have a hoof wall at the toe 3-1/2 inches long. One of the geldings we own has 3-1/4 inch long hoof walls at the toe. First you have to grow a good sole so it can do it’s job of helping support the horse’s weight. 

If you go to scroll down and look at the x-rays, you see how the joint between the coffin bone and the short pastern bone is sunken into the hoof capsule. You can easily see how this can effect the movement in that joint.  We will go farther in to distal descent later in another article.

At Delaware Natural Hoof Care, I do not remove sole just for the sake of creating concavity. I let the sole build up so it can help support the weight of the horse. As the sole gets thicker it pushes the coffin bone up into the hoof capsule and creates it’s own concavity. This is primarily how we in the natural hoof care world reverse distal descent. Many traditional farriers say you can’t reverse distal descent. I do it all the time.

Sometimes when the sole starts to shed and flaking occurs (dead sole) I may remove it. I will scrape sole out of the back corners of the heel area in order to get an idea where my hoof wall height should be.

I almost never remove sole in the toe area.

There are times when a horse will have what is called false sole and I will have to work on it in order to get to the live sole and achieve proper form and function. For someone to come in and have to carve on the horses sole every trim is unnecessary and can cause soreness. 

On horses that have been trimmed correctly and have healthy hooves, you will see a callous around the edge of the sole just inside the hoof wall. This is very important in order to maintain soundness and should not be touched with a rasp. I will talk about the bars in another article but I often see bars being completely removed along with the sole. The bars are also for support and where sole material grows from. If you just chop the bars off it greatly impedes the growth and thickness of the sole.

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