Tips for Winter Hoof Care
Many know the saying “No foot, no horse.” Therefore, it is essential that you take extra precautions to ensure your horse’s feet stay healthy throughout the winter. Your horse’s feet require different care during the cold months in order to address:
- The effects of frozen ground
- Snow packed hooves
- Changing shoeing schedules
Beware of Frozen Ground
A healthy foot has proper blood flow and circulation. During cold winter months, the blood vessels constrict in the horse’s limbs, reducing blood flow and increasing the risk of injury. When the ground freezes, it no longer gives way under the hoof, thus�providing zero cushion or give. Pounding the foot on a hard surface can lead to an excessive concussive force on the foot and increase the risk of injury. Frozen ground also makes horses with thin or flat soles more susceptible to bruising. Be aware of ground conditions: don’t exercise or ride the horse hard on the ground if it is frozen.
Prevent Snow Packed Hooves
Snow packed hooves can contribute to sole bruising. Walking around on balls of ice can also cause twisting of the ankle or tendon injuries. Do your best to keep hooves picked out. In addition, your shoer may have special shoeing suggestions to help prevent snow packing. Options may include:
- Bubble pads
- Leather pads
Adjust Shoeing on the Correct Winter Schedule
Horse hooves tend to grow slower during the winter months. Check with your farrier to determine if you should adjust your shoeing schedule to accommodate this change. In addition, some owners prefer to remove shoes during the winter so the horse can go barefoot.