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What’s going on there?

Imagine, you’re cleaning out the hooves of your horse and all of a sudden a part of the hoof sole comes off in little white crumbs or occasionally even in larger chucks.

The reassuring news is that a crumbling hoof sole is typically not a cause for significant concern!

This condition is frequently observed in horses with limited physical activity, especially those that are minimally exercised and mainly on consistently soft and level surfaces, such as riding arenas. In such cases, the sole doesn’t undergo sufficient wear and tear from below, causing the dead horn of the sole to detach in crumbled or plate-like fragments when the hooves are cleaned in the sole region. The regeneration of the sole horn is a natural renewal process of the hoof sole, which typically occurs unnoticed by humans when the sole horn is continuously stimulated through significant movement and various terrains. In this scenario, the hoof is effectively “scraped out” by the uneven ground.

Therefore, the most effective way to support your horse is to provide ample opportunities for free-range exercise, such as a paddock trail with diverse surfaces, and engage in regular additional exercise on hacks.

The decaying crumbly horn can be easily removed

This can easily be done during routine hoof care and, of course, during daily hoof cleaning. However, in this process, it’s essential to exercise caution, particularly when scraping, ensuring that only the very loose horn that naturally comes off on its own is removed. The living sole should be avoided during this process, as it serves to protect the sensitive tissue beneath it from pressure.

The process of the sole crumbling can also be observed when transitioning from a flat hoof to a healthier sole arch, resulting from proper trimming. In this situation, the transition is characterized by the decaying horn that flakes or crumbles off. Ideally, a sole arch should form naturally as the hoof undergoes the necessary changes. Actively cutting into the living sole can lead to thinning and sensitivity in the horse’s hoof, and it may even trigger laminitis. It is best to allow the natural process to take place.

In the beginning, it may be necessary to adjust the trimming or shoeing intervals. Excessive wall protrusion can reduce the natural abrasion, even with proper movement management.

For abnormal growths, detachments: Hoof trimmer

Certainly, there are hoof conditions where a double sole may develop, or the corner struts have grown over the sole. In such cases, a larger piece may occasionally detach. In that case, it’s advisable to consult your hoof specialist. They can provide a professional assessment and initiate the necessary treatment measures to promote the development of a healthy sole.