Responsible Horse Care - About Horse Shoeing and Hoof Care In Winter

Date: 9 October 2013

Even though the hooves do not grow as quickly in the winter as they do in the summer, it is still important to keep up with regular hoof trimming, painting, and dressing.

Most horses need shoeing, which protects the walls of their hooves and their toes. Depending on the work the horse does, the shoes can protect the muscles, bones and tendons of the legs from injury. Improper shoeing or remaining unshod when shoes are needed can make your horse permanently lame.

The daily care of the hoof falls to the owner, who should pick out each hoof every day, removing rocks, dirt and other foreign matter that will otherwise collect and create foot problems. Every six week, whether he wears shoes or not, your horse will need to have his hooves trimmed.

Horseshoes come in a variety of materials; steel, aluminum and rubber are some of the choices. Shoes are usually nailed into the hoof or the farrier may decide to use a specialized glue instead.

Hoof Care In Winter

Probably the best way to begin winter hoof care is to pull the horse's shoes depending on the terrain where the horse is kept and the overall health of the hooves - to give the hooves some time to thicken, to permit for heel expansion, and to increase the circulation within the hoof capsule. But only if you don't ride your horse in winter so often.

Keeping a horse without its shoes is often referred to as „letting the horse go barefoot" and while this is a desirable option in the winter, it also requires special care for the animal's hooves. For example, while you remove some of the sole when applying shoes to the hooves, when the horse goes barefoot, you will want to trim the hooves differently.

In some cases you will not be able to allow your horse the luxury of going barefoot. This may be the case if you are expecting to still ride your horse during the winter. In this situation you will need to take extra care to accommodate the hooves to remain healthy during freezing temperatures. You may choose to add pads under the horse's shoes, which eliminate the risk of sole bruises because of the frozen ground. A snowball pad, which will avoid snow packing under the hooves, will need to be used if you are expecting a lot of snow. Veryuseful is the bubbly snow pooper pad which simply prevents snow build up. Rim pads made of rubber or more durable plastic dislodge any snow build up.

There are different options with respect to offering added traction to your horse via the shoes. You may consider using borium, which is a resilient surfacing material. Application of this substance to the shoe needs to be done sparingly in the heel, avoiding large portions on the bottom of the shoe which will only stress the hoof unnecessarily. Another option to offer traction to your horse's hooves is to use studs or ice nails. Studs may be driven in on a permanent basis, while screw-ins will provide temporary traction. Ice nails simply replace the already present heel nails, and a borium bubble on the head of the nail provides the traction.

The source article can be found here: Horses and Horse Information

Recommended products: 
Winter Oil-gel 
Stud Box 
Hoof And Frog Protector Hippo Sol 
Hoof Tar 

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