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Heart Hoof Care: Part II - Sole Corium & Sole Tubules

Updated: Apr 5

Now that we’ve learned about the bones, joints, and tendons of the lower limb we are going to start covering some specific internal structures within the hoof and the role they play in the functionality and growth of the hoof.  We’ll start with the sole corium.  The sole corium is a dermal layer which lines the underside of the coffin bone.  The sole corium is covered in many papillae; each papilla is composed of its own vein, artery, and nerve.  These papillae create sole tubules—each individual papilla is responsible for creating one single sole tubule.

What in the heck is a sole tuble?!...Sole tubules are tiny, tube-like structures that grow downward from the papillae of the sole corium. The many, many tiny sole tubules that grow from the papillae of the sole corium are what create the horny bottom of the hoof known as the sole. Think of the sole tubules like the hair that grows on your own head.  Your hair has a root and grows in “tubules” from those roots.  You can also compare them to blades of grass; dirt would be the corium, the roots of the grasswould be the papillae, and the blades of grass would be the sole tubules. Sole tubules grow an average of ~⅛ of an inch per month. The oldest, weakest sole tubules cells located towards the tip of each tubule can become compacted over the active sole—becoming what is known as sole callus.

The flaky, sole region of the hoof formed by all of the the sole tubules provides the ideal protection for the underlying coffin bone.  You will notice the shape of the sole region matches the shape of the coffin bone, which makes perfect sense now that we know the sole grows from the sole corium on the underside of the coffin bone.  The sole region will be the first piece of the imaginary hoof we are building—we will learn more about how it connects to other hoof structures after we learn about those structures in the blogs still to come!

***All photos courtesy of Cheryl HendersonThe Oregon School of Natural Hoof Care***


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