Archive for Natural hoof care resource forums for all those interested in barefoot horses
  Forum Index -> UKNHCP Barefoot Community

question on hoof sole colour

my blacksmith commented on the colour of my horses sole saying that they had heard that the dark grey/black colouring on my girls hooves was a sign of i think they said celluar  breakdown. My girl has three black hooves with a dark sole and one white hoof with a white sole.  

Has anyone heard anything about this?


I'd say it was just pigment either that or half the horses on my yard have the same thing!!

Mind you, Drum has stripey hooves and one of his frogs is white and I swear it suffers worse wth infection!! (but that could jst be cos I can see it Embarassed  Very Happy )

it's just pigment... my white legged, cream-hoofed horse has cream soles, my dark legged horse with one sock has three dark soles and a corresponding cream sole!

Well, you are all part right  Wink

Horses with black/grey hooves often have grey soles, and that is to do with pigmentation and is perfectly healthy.

However, black areas on soles can also indicate areas of por attachment and necrotic tissue, where the attachment at cellular level is poor.  

This is something which Mark Johnson has shown on dissection, and we have also seen evidence of horses with black areas on their sole losing this as the sole becomes better attached and healthier.

Mark is the best person to talk to if your farrier is interested in finding out more.


Mark and I looked at and saw black necrotic areas in the sole and coronary bands when we took the hoof capsules off.  I really don't think you would see them externally though.  It would only be through dissection that it would be revealed.

I see white soles, black soles and spotted soles all the time.  This is just the pigmentation of the hoof.

The only external changes in sole color that I know of is the organish/pumpkin coloring you get with some laminic horses.  I don't know if I have ever noticed a dark color changing, but I may not have been looking for it.


Here are pictures of a horse that foundered badly.  He is about to slough the soles from really bad abscesses.  When the soles peeled, the pigmentation stayed the same.

I know he had lots of damage because of the abscessing and the rotation.

The hoof walls are mainly black on both front feet.



I think its Jane T who has photos of her horses' sole changing colour....Jane, am I right?!  I've certainly seen black spots on soles which seem to reduce or fade when the hooves improve in health, but can't lay my hands on the photos right now... Rolling Eyes


Yes its me! And since seeing that, I see it all the time - especially in flared feet (or those that have been flared in the past)  that same streaking black that we see on dissection.....

There are definately black feet that have black pigment soles, but there are also definately black feet that have black or streaky soles that should actually be white....

Magic's 'black' foot..... which is interesting in itself as I thought he had a half black, half white sole..... WRONG!  Its even more white now, but I'm too lazy to have taken photos recently!

May 2005

Sept 2006

August 2007



That is so cool!  I will start looking for it.  I did spend an hour or so going over photos of horses that I trim.  I didn't see any dramatic changes in pattern, even in horses that greatly improved.  You have piqued my interest though and I will look more.

Great pictures.

Jo Mitchell

This is brilliant and now makes sense with Storm my TB x CB! Same sole discolouration which is now fading to the white waxy colour

Thank you guys.


Laughing Cool, glad it helps! It was certainly a sledgehammer to the head moment for me (after arguing til I was blue in the face that it was PIGMENT, I then went and checked my photos and low and behold.....  Embarassed )

His sole doesn't look much like a lot I see though - they more usually have more uniform streaking through the sole.  But he gets separation on that outside quarter (corresponding to the blackest bit) if I leave his feet too long between trims, so there is definately something there (none of his other feet will get separation even if I DO leave them too long....)

Oh, and Magic, King of Equines would like you all to know he is glad to be of service (as if his head wasn't big enough already  Rolling Eyes  Twisted Evil )

The picutres are really interesting and I'm amazed that the colour is fading so much, in the orginal picture it looked like natural colouring.

What type of damage do you think is causing this change, is it linked to lgl or concussion or some other problem?

I have some pics of my girls feet before the spring grass and will take some pics of my girls feet now for comparison but don't know how to upload the pics - can you tell me hows it is done?

Many thanks

I've got awesome ones of Fari's feet looking jolly black .....  three years later they were completely white.  I nearly fell over when I went looking at my photos after Mark talked to me about it.  Now it's like spotting your new car on the road, you think you're the only one driving a Navara and then when you get one there are hundred's about simply because now you are looking for them.  

Jest however does have a pigmented hoof ..... just to be confusing.

S x

rose wrote:
I have some pics of my girls feet before the spring grass and will take some pics of my girls feet now for comparison but don't know how to upload the pics - can you tell me hows it is done?

Many thanks

Open an account at (its free)

Upload your pictures to your photobucket account

Then once uploaded, your picture will have 3 "tags" underneath it, the last one, the IMG tag is the one you will need to post on here to display your picture

Good luck in trying , and any problems, PM me

Thought these recent sole shots of a TBx 6 weeks out of shoes would be interesting to see. The hooves have reasonable structure for long term shod feet but the sole colour is probably the best indicator in this horses assessment that all is not well. Can't wait to see them in 6 months  Very Happy

Right front

Left front

This horse came out of shoes, galloped around in the field from one end to the other for about 20 minutes, and never looked back  Cool Forum Index -> UKNHCP Barefoot Community
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum