Solutions for Tender-Footed Horse Hooves

We've all seen it: the horse with sensitive sole, the tender footed horse that gives, sometimes almost collapses when stepping on a rock. There can be a variety of causes for sensitive soles.

- Excess moisture in the hoof. An average hoof sole should have about a 33% moisture content. With lots of rain and on soft or wet ground this percentage can increase substantially, which then softens the sole and increases sensitivity.
- Knife-happy trimming. Excess paring of the sole beyond removing flaky dead sole can increase sole sensitivity.
- Dropped soles and flat soles. Soles with little concavity will be more sensitive to rocks.
- Bruised soles are sensitive. Horses exposed to too many rocks without proper toughening of the soles.
- Genetic. Often flat soles and thin soles are inherited. Examine the hooves of dam and sire before breeding.

Be that as it may, there are steps we can take to mitigate tender soles.

- Keep the horse in dry corrals with sand or small pebbles.
- Apply daily iodine or turpentine solutions to the soles.
- Pack the soles with Venice Turpentine or Hoof Sole Pack, then glue the boots on.
- Follow the steps for transitioning to barefoot as outlined in the blogs of Kevin Myers, "Bootlegging".


This horse had sheared the bars off. He was extremely sensitive, the sole was very thin.

I applied a layer of Sole Pack and glued a Glue-On EasyCare boot. He was immediately more comfortable.


At last week's Strawberry Fields endurance event we all encountered a lot of rocks. In spite of having Glue-on boots and Easyboot Gloves on all our horses, after the first day, one of the horses with already sensitive soles was really sore when stepping on rocks. The horse was otherwise sound and in good shape. What to do?

We wanted to start the horse, but had to come up with a solution. That's when the Bootmeister put on his creative hat and started thinking. What if we double boot this horse, would that work? With nothing to lose, I gave it a try.

First, I rasped off the front of the existing glue-on boot and beveled the bottom edges around the existing boot.


With the help of a Hoof Jack, I took the dorsal wall of the existing boot all the way down to the hoof wall. The sandals are not mine, in case you are wondering whether I work with sandals around horses. Another rider was watching my work.


I then selected a pair of Glue-on boots one full size bigger than the old one, the horse had a #1, I selected a #2. A #2.5 would have worked even better. After cutting the walls of the new glue ons flush with the bottom, I fitted it so both boots were even in the heels.


After roughening up the existing boots outer layer and cleaning it with a wire brush, I applied Vettec Adhere to the second pair of boots inside walls and glued them on.


One boot on top of the other

The heels of both boots are flush: this is really important for heel support. The second pair of boot should not be shorter than the original one, it could be a bit longer for better heel support. This photo was taken after the 50 mile ride.

Before the second boot was applied, the horse was very tender on the pre ride trot out. We could not have started her. With the double boot system, she traveled comfortably over the whole 50 miles, part of which was a 12 mile gravel downhill road and lots of rocks over the climb and descent to over 10,000 ft. The horse finished 2nd, never missed a beat and showed sound for the BC judging.

This is not an ideal situation, the horse is elevated in front by about an inch, but it can save the bacon if needed. Another trick up your sleeve. One Glue on boot weighs half as much as a steel shoe. So with two glue ons, the horse still only carries the same weight as with a steel shoe. Not bad at all.

With all the different EasyCare boots available, we can really solve problems when we put our heads together. Let's face it, there is nothing out there on the hoof protection market worldwide, that comes even close to the wide variety of boots and hoof protection products made available to the riders by EasyCare, Inc. A big Thanks to Garrett Ford and all the EasyCare staff for providing so much education and such great products for horse and rider in all equestrian disciplines.

Success through Learning, that motto was proven true again last week.

As a parting shot, Double Zell at 10,300 ft on day 3 of Strawberry ride. Double Zell won on day two and three, back to back, wearing the same Glue-on Boots. He was not foot sore.


For more detail on the results of the 2010 Strawberry Fields four-day endurance event day ride, visit our blog at www.globalendurance.com.

So long,

Your Bootmeister

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