Boosting the Signal: Sole Trouble?

Like me, you may have thought the days of obsessing over Tristan’s right front hoof were over.


That goddamn foot is like a bad penny. It always turns up again, at the moment you are least able – emotionally, intellectually, financially – to cope with it.

Where are we now?

Well, you may remember that late last fall, my farrier suggested that we shoe Tristan for a few cycles to support the toe on that foot. He thought the hoof needed additional support for an area of weakness at the toe that was directly in line down from the scarring on the coronet band/surgical site. So we shod him. He was happy and sound, etc., but I was hemorrhaging money.

About eight weeks ago, we took him out of shoes and he went back barefoot. I did some preventive treatments with White Lightning and Durasole to try and head off any problems, and he held beautifully sound and happy right through.

Except, at his last trim, the farrier took out a LOT of that toe. A big hole. And the other day he called me over and had a long conversation with me. He thinks that because of the scar tissue leftover from the abscess, Tristan will never grow that toe right again. and the mushy spot on the sole will just always be there. And he needs shoes full-time: not for support, but to hold in place a pad that will mostly prevent anything from getting into that hole. Barefoot, he’s worried that it’s just going to get infected constantly, and possibly even progress to something worse.


I’ve never heard of a horse unable to grow sole in one specific part of the foot. And he did so well for so many years. I’m worried there’s something deeper going on, and I don’t want to just cover it up with a shoe until I have a better answer.

In the meantime, I’m going back on a White Lightning & Durasole regimen, and I ordered some hoof packing that should last a few days at a time to try and keep things out of it. I’ve emailed the vet and we’ll start yet another round of “what in the hell is going on now?”

Anyone have any ideas on what might be going on? Part of my brain wonders if it’s just really weird white line disease? But then shouldn’t it have cleared up with the things we’ve done so far?

He’s sound and comfortable, at least, but god damn it I wish we could move on.

18 thoughts on “Boosting the Signal: Sole Trouble?

  1. Shoot, man. Hoof stuff sucks. I lost my horse to white line disease. (It was so uncommon in my state, no one knew what was going on until it was far too late.) It sounds like you have a great team working on keeping Tristan sound and happy, and I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a solution/answer is found soon!


    1. Yikes, I’m so sorry to hear that! One of the side benefits of this going on for so long is that we watch it like a hawk and have a good quick response built in.


  2. Damn. I am so sorry to see that. 😦 Iirc, he has Cushings, too, right? Do you think there’s a metabolic component contributing to the poor regrowth? (I’m only musing out loud, here, because my mom’s mare was IR and had shit feet – I started her on Remission and she improved considerably. But, then, we weren’t dealing with scar tissues or the hoof trauma Tris has endured, so.) I really, really hope you guys get some manageable answers quickly.


    1. It definitely could be the Cushings. That’s an interesting idea that I’ll relate to the vet. I do know that his Cushings overall depresses his immune system. Wounds are harder to heal, and he’s slower to bounce back from most things. Thanks for the idea!


  3. Phoenix had white line disease when I bought him back that required some pretty large resections (vet said he was just months from foundering because of it) and left him with front feet that grow much differently than they did previously (grows more toe than heel). He’s very prone to having issues along that same area of his hoof but unlike Tristan he is not comfortable barefoot any longer.
    He did have a period of years where he was okay barefoot but required careful management. For a short time I used Keratex hoof putty to fill in the holes and avoid the spread of bacteria so maybe that’s something to look into?
    Honestly covering up something like that which could become a real issue scares me too. I like to see what’s going on in there.
    I guess I would want x-rays to make sure there isn’t something else going on at this point before making a decision.


    1. Months away from foundering is terrifying! Interesting that he has some of the same issues from his resections. The farrier felt strongly that resecting was not the right way to go for some similar reasons. He didn’t want to pile on more scars on top of the scar tissue.

      I connected with the vet today and she also feels that we should get x-rays, so goodbye, money!


  4. I would definitely consider the relationship between Cushings and the hoof growth issue. I think you are smart to minimize the risk of infection and not just cover the hoof with a pad/shoe. Would boots work so you could remove them each day? I know nothing about boots but maybe that would be a good compromise between barefoot and pad/shoe? Here’s hoping your vet can give you some ideas to help!


    1. I think you and Jen are both on to something and I’m definitely going to bring it up with the vet. She’s scheduled for next Tuesday now.

      The farrier did suggest boots for turnout as a solution. I’m torn – on the one hand, they could definitely work. On the other, I don’t want the barn staff to have to deal with that – and I can’t be there every morning. They may still be a good answer – I’ll talk it through with the barn manager, vet and farrier.

      At the heart, though, I don’t want to just cover it up. I want to figure out why it’s happening again and address that. And I don’t want it to be an unfixable problem!


      1. Oh definitely, you don’t want to cover it up and ignore it, but if it is left open during turnout, is there a high risk of inviting an infection into the hole? Such a tough spot because it’s not exactly like you can keep him off his hoof! If it keeps happening because Cushings limits the healing process, maybe you will have to be extra “aggressive” to get it to heal up, like combining a biotin type supplement, hoof hardening substance or Hoof Armor, boots when needed, etc. Ugggg I don’t know, I am sure you have (over)thought about it all around haha. I hope the vet gives you some good ideas for a plan going forward. ❤


      2. Thanks! Yeah, we’re attacking from all angles. He’s been on biotin in the past, and I have thought about bringing him back on. I have to ask the vet. He’s getting both Durasole and a clay pack in the hole multiple times a day right now, on the hopes that they’ll help. I also have my fingers crossed for the vet!


  5. Oh gosh. That hole is def an invitation for infection. In regards to the boots Elizabeth suggested, I have had to put boots on and off for turnout and it was no big deal. Took maybe ten seconds, and they are worth the hassle and money. I don’t know that they’ll keep out infection, though? But then again, putting shoes and pads on doesn’t guarantee anything either. Does your farrier pack the hoof with like Equi-Pack before covering with a pad?


    1. Yes, when he was shoeing + pad, he was using Artimud, which packed the hole.

      Boots would be a potential solution because they’d at least block moisture & outside problems, but I am also unconvinced they’d really do the job. I feel the same about shoes. Honestly, I do still want to get to the bottom of it!


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