As fall begins, it signals that winter is close advancing. As with anything, preparedness is key and doing some planning a head of time can make a big difference.
Here in Colorado, we usually see snow on the ground by the end of October, so these are things you can start thinking about now.
1. Talk to your Farrier
Your farrier can give you a good idea on all the options for winter trimming/shoeing. Based on the workload of the horse and the climate in your area.Due to the metabolism and nutrition changes that happen during the winter, the hooves have a slower growth cycle. You can plan with your farrier to go longer in between trims.
My senior half Arabian, Baby, goes barefoot year-round but he get's cracks pretty easily, I have been using Keratex to keep them strong and have notice a lot less breakage and cracks.
"Keratex is an equine and livestock hoof hardener. That strengthens, hardens and protects hooves. It is equally effective in wet and dry conditions. May be applied to shod and unshod hooves. It strengthens weak, cracked hooves by improving the molecular structure of the hoof wall and soles. Keratex Hoof Hardener prevents the horn from taking in excess moisture, making it resistant to softening and weakening, which helps reduce shoe loss and abscesses. Since Keratex Hoof Hardener is not an oil or resin layer, it does not seal the hoof and allows the hoof to breathe and function naturally."
It comes with a brush, but it is just a plain wood one that is pretty small so I purchased the red one separately.
I apply it to the bottom half of his hoof per the directions, and the bottom half underneath the hoof along the edge. Click the image to get yours!
2. Preventing the dreaded and dangerous Ice Balls
Ice balls can cause balance issues when built up in the hoof, and potentially lead to injuries due to slipping. Barefoot horses don't get a lot of buildup of ice/snow but if there are shoes involved you can bet that the snow will get packed in.
Snow pads for horses that have shoes can be a lifesaver in the winter. There are two types:
1. Rim Pads: is a hollow tube that runs from the heel to the toe.
2. Bubble Pads: a type of snow pad that has a bubble in the middle of the pad that pushes off excess snow.
Some say that the spray cooking oil/Crisco method works well, but for a very limited amount of time.
3. Avoiding Slick Surfaces
Cement walkways and even muddy paths can become very slick when iced over. Using old carpet pieces and rubber mats can give the horse (and their owners!) better grip when things get icy. Just be sure to use common sense so that the mats don't slip out on the ice. Also, bring them in when not in use so that the carpet or mats don't get buried under layers of snow/ice.
Buckets of sand, salt, and extra shavings can come in handy around high traffic areas. Do not apply sand or salt around or near paddocks or areas where a horse would eat, as these can cause colic.
4. Ride Smart
Whether you are on the trail or in an outdoor arena, be sure to check hooves regularly for snow build up. Roads and trails can have icy spots that you can't see under the snow. Be very cautious or even avoid riding on roads/trails, if you can't see the ground.
5. Stock up your Medical Kit
Abscesses, hoof bruises, thrush, and rain-rot can rear their ugly heads during the wet conditions of winter. It's good to have supplies on hand to treat these as they come up.
What tips do you have to get hooves in shape for the winter? Comment Below