Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Dropped Sole or Flat-Footed

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If you notice lameness in addition to this sign.

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • If you want information on how to manage horses of this conformation to reduce the likelihood of lameness.

“Flat-footed” or “dropped sole” refers to a sole that lacks the normal cup-like concavity to the ground surface. This conformation can be genetic in origin or it can result from disruption of the hoof structure. Some horse breeds and genetic lines simply have little concavity to the sole, but truly flat feet are often a sign of a damaged hoof.

Laminitis, which is inflammation and breakdown of the attachments of the hoof, can cause movement of the coffin bone within the foot and result in a collapsed “dropped” sole. Excessive trimming may also result in the loss of concavity. Horses with dropped soles tend to bruise more easily and shoes may put pressure on the soles, resulting in lameness.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse for lameness, and assess all of your horse’s feet, paying particular attention to whether one or more feet are flat-footed. Assess the horse for lameness at walk and trot. Feel for digital pulse and heat.

Look for the other characteristics of chronic laminitis such as uneven growth rings on the hoof wall, collapsed (dish) of the front hoof wall, and widened white line. Always compare one foot to the others for reference. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet examines the hooves and may conduct a lameness exam. They consider this finding in light of whether or not lameness is present and other changes in the hoof that suggest a diagnosis of laminitis. Radiography is the standard test to determine the position of the coffin bone (P3) within the hoof.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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