Originally Posted by NittanyEquestrian View Post
understood that shaping the sole so that they do NOT stand on it and so concavity was maintained was a good thing provided it is done correctly and not to the point of causing it to bleed/bruise/etc.
While healthy hoof walls should definitely share the load, IMO it is SOOO important that the underside of the foot - sole, frog, heel - should also most definitely be part of the support. I believe the horses hoof, as with every other animal's foot is built for use. I cannot believe that God/evolution(whatever you like) would put something on the bottom of an animal's foot that's not meant to contact the ground. Even if you do cut concavity in, so there is no ground support for the sole & frog on hard, flat ground, what happens when the horse is on broken or yielding ground - he still gets the ground pressure on his soles regardless of your efforts, but thinning it provides less 'armour plating' to protect the internal structures.
I think peripheral loading - as with either metal rims or overlong walls on flat ground - is about the biggest mechanical problems for hooves. Without ground support under the pedal bone, the entire horse is effectively just 'hanging' by the tenuous laminar connections & so the hoof inside the capsule can 'sink'. I think this is why so many horses have thin, flat soles and shod horses tend to have far longer capsules than (healthy) bare feet.
truly a hard and fast rule to not touch the sole at all or is this one of those things that unless you are truly knowledgeable you shouldn't mess with?
Yes, it is truly a rule... but there are exceptions to every rule IME
. So saying, I can't think of a single exception ATM that would cause me to trim into *live* sole. Perhaps tho that is the difference that you may not get with your farrier.
I can pull shoes, round edges and level heels as needed but I prefer to pay a professional to keep my horse's feet healthy as I don't have the time, physical strength or skill it requires to keep my horse's feet in top shape.
That's good, that you can do that. Whether or not a horse owner ultimately aspires to do the farriery themselves, I think learning the principles particularly - and some basic practice in case of emergency - is very important. Not least because most of the horse's hoof health is down to us, not the once a month or 2 visits from the farrier.
In my opinion concavity is something the horse has on it's own though. It's not something you make by carving out the hoof. There is only so much depth to the sole so I personally don't like thinning it.
Most farriers around here tend to make pancake feet out of just about anything. I have even seen some rasp them down to the point of ZERO concavity so the horse is just sitting on the sole with no heel or wall support and then people wonder why their pasture puff needs shoes. It kills me...I guess because of what goes on here I'm more apt to take sole rather than leave it and run the risk of them having no concavity.
I have included a (very simplistic) diagram of a healthy foot vs one that's gone 'splat' - whether or not it's happened due to a farrier rasping into the sole. First consider that the healthy hoof doesn't have too much sole, but it is adequate. Next consider that individual horses have different amounts of concavity naturally and depending on their environment. Eg. Some horses have relatively flat pedal bones at the bottom compared with others. Horses that are used to working on hard, flat surfaces tend to have flatter soles - filled in more around the frog, which allows ground support on these unnatural surfaces. Now imagine how much protection the horse has(n't) already if they have 'pancake' feet, even before we think about carving 'natural' concavity.