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Flat Soles

This is a discussion on Flat Soles within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • How to fix a horses flat feet
  • Will my horse fail vetting for having flat soles

 
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    09-02-2011, 02:06 PM
  #1
Foal
Flat Soles

Hi there,
I vetted a gelding a few weeks back that was overall very suitable except he had flat soles and had toe bruising at the time because of a bad trim, and because he was barefoot. The vet recommended that if I wanted to buy him to put him on a foot supplement such as Farriers formula or Biotin and get shoes put on him with pads. The vet kind of said that his flat soles would always be a management sort of thing. He also said he saw no signs of navicular, founder or any other problems and he could re check the horse for me in a month to see if the brusing was gone.
Do any of your have horses with flat feet? If you were buying one would you stay away from horses that have flat feet? What types of problems can it cause? Is the horse likely to be unsound a lot because of it? Anything you can tell me would be great!
     
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    09-02-2011, 02:56 PM
  #2
Super Moderator
The horse in my avatar has always been on the flat-footed side.

He came to live with me as a coming 3 yr old and will be 24 in October.

I used to keep shoes on him because he was on the ouchy side and we did some pretty rough trail riding in rocks, creeks that were full of rocks, and shale basins.

He now has metabolic issues, has some hock/ankle arthritis, so is pretty much retired. BUT because of his change in diet, his hooves are stronger now than they have ever been (albeit still on the flat-footed side). I have seen him do his running walk 40 feet down the middle of our gravel drive, at liberty, and never ouch or gimp.

With diligent and timely trimming (according to how fast his hooves grow), it isn't something I would worry about.

I am not a professional shoer or trimmer, but I really question the pads. I never had pads on my horse and we logged a lot of hard trail riding miles - hard as in he slid his butt down hills and dug up the other side.

When I lived on the OH/PA border, he stayed barefoot all winter and I would still trail ride him thru the woods and a few miles along the edge of the road to get home without any ill effects.

I am sure there are varying degrees of flat-footed, so pictures and even the X-rays would be great so the professionals could give their opinions.

EDITED TO ADD: These are the Before and Afters of the left front on the Fella I am talking about. The pics are from 2010 when he was coming 23 yrs. Keep in mind this is the hoof of a senior horse that has logged a lot hard trail miles and now has metabolic issues. The trim was at five weeks because he has always grown toe really fast. It's easy to see there is not a lot of concavity to that hoof but it is healthy. He has been barefoot four years and will stay that way - our hard trail riding days are done.
     
    09-02-2011, 11:41 PM
  #3
Weanling
My horse has flat feel and soles on the thin side - I actually just had the vet out to do some xrays because I suspected navicular, he wsa clear though. I'm glad you're guy was too. They suggested to me to use venice turpintine on the bottoms of his feet until I can get padded shoes. They tend to try and step down on their toes if the bottoms of their feet are sensitive, this can cause them to trip a lot too! Did they do radiographs to rule out navicular?
     
    09-03-2011, 01:41 AM
  #4
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by horsemom2be    
The vet kind of said that his flat soles would always be a management sort of thing.
Certainly possible, dependent upon terrain and use.

Quote:
Do any of your have horses with flat feet?
No, but a good number of my client horses do.

Quote:
If you were buying one would you stay away from horses that have flat feet?
Probably.

Quote:
What types of problems can it cause?
Flat soles often mean thin soles. More susceptible to solar bruising, sub-solar abscess, more severe mechanical problems secondary any possible future laminitic episodes, etc, etc, etc.

Quote:
Is the horse likely to be unsound a lot because of it?
It depends largely on intended use and typical terrain. Increased risk that shoes may be needed, hence increased potential cost of ownership.

Quote:
Anything you can tell me would be great!
It's a buyer's market in the equine world. Hoof conformation as relates soundness should be a factor in any purchase decision.

If your intended use exceeds the animals ability to perform you may find yourself seeing a lot of this every 6 weeks.





Cheers,
Mark
     
    09-03-2011, 01:52 AM
  #5
Banned
Mark, in your experience, what "causes" flat soles? Is it an underlying conformational thing, having to do with--I don't know--the alignment of the coffin bone or something? Or is it more of a genetic predisposition to growing a "bad foot." And if it's the latter, why can't you fix the problem with corrective trimming, hoof supplements, and dressings like Keratex for sole thinness?
     
    09-03-2011, 08:24 AM
  #6
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba13    
Mark, in your experience, what "causes" flat soles? Is it an underlying conformational thing, having to do with--I don't know--the alignment of the coffin bone or something? Or is it more of a genetic predisposition to growing a "bad foot." And if it's the latter, why can't you fix the problem with corrective trimming, hoof supplements, and dressings like Keratex for sole thinness?
I'm not Mark, but those barefoot hoof pics are my horse. Since I have a 21 year history with him, I can say:

He was like that when I bought him as a coming three year old.

He is a registered Tennessee Walker who didn't "Make" for the Performance world and went to auction at 18 months of age. It is safe to say that, at his young age, he was never subjected to stacks but most likely did have some sort of weighted shoe on him during his 30 days of training.

He's been a trail horse the entire time I have owned him and I don't mean those quiet little hacks in a Metro Park. He always wore shoes during riding season and barefoot in the winter. I rode him barefoot thru the winter without issue but that was because we had miles of old abandoned railroad beds and the edges of the neighbors' hay fields to use.

He was formally diagnosed with Equine Metabolic Syndrome in May, 2007<---that is almost the same as insulin resistance but not quite. He suffers some muscle wasting, which is not typical with IR.

So far <knock-on-wood> he has never in his life had a laminitic episode or any abscesses due to being flat-footed and/or suffering from EMS.

His hooves are stronger now, he will be 24 in October, than they have ever been. Much of that due to his strict diet (I didn't know as much about diet after all, as I thought I did), and frequent trims.

Quote:
If your intended use exceeds the animals ability to perform
is really the bottom line
     
    09-03-2011, 10:26 AM
  #7
Foal
Thanks for the replies. Where I live the ground is very hard, they call it the rock for a reason haha. The horse has always been used as a trail horse and is not ridden a whole lot and only came to the island a year ago so its hard to tell if he would stay sound with working 5 days a week. Would you jump a horse (low heights) with flat feet? And how can you tell if your intended use would exceed the animals ability to perform before buying?
     
    09-03-2011, 10:58 AM
  #8
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubba13    
Mark, in your experience, what "causes" flat soles? Is it an underlying conformational thing, having to do with--I don't know--the alignment of the coffin bone or something? Or is it more of a genetic predisposition to growing a "bad foot." And if it's the latter, why can't you fix the problem with corrective trimming, hoof supplements, and dressings like Keratex for sole thinness?

Causal factors will vary for each horse but genetics and conformational related loading are probably most common. People breed to discipline expectations with little attention to hoof quality. The thoroughbred track industry is a good example.

Can I fix the problem with trimming, supplements, dressings or even proper orthotics? In the majority of cases... nope. Can I assist the horse to better meet the use expectations of the owner? In a lot of cases, yes.

There are a lot of congenital and pathological problems the farrier can assist the horse to compensate for but few we can permanently "fix". Mother nature is sometimes a cruel taskmaster and expects her "pound of flesh" to manage the species. We domesticate these animals, compensate for their defects and extend their natural life to meet our intent. That intent is often contrary to natures plan and almost always comes at a cost.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    09-03-2011, 11:15 AM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by horsemom2be    
Would you jump a horse (low heights) with flat feet?
A lot of people do. Flat footed horses find their way into all kinds of human defined disciplines. The practice keeps farriers and vets well employed.

Quote:
And how can you tell if your intended use would exceed the animals ability to perform before buying?
Experience. It's a judgment call with no guarantees. More to the point, it's a buyer's market and there's a lot of good horses available. Look for one that will best meet your needs and intended use. If you lack experience, engage the assistance of a professional. It's not particularly expensive and may represent your best long term investment in the horse.

For those wondering, "experience" does not mean "I've owned my horse for twenty years and he does great barefoot with proper diet and correct trimming".

Look for someone with hands-on experience representing hundreds or thousands of horses. Vets, farriers and professional trainers are good examples of people who will be able to best assist you.

Cheers,
Mark
     
    09-03-2011, 11:59 AM
  #10
Green Broke
Why buy a horse you know for a fact is going to have limitations and require extra and more expensive care ? Often we let emotion cloud our judgement. Try to stay logical and save that emotion for the horse that passes vet check with flying colors.
     

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