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Winterizing Your Horses Feet

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Cold, mud, snow, and ice present challenges to the health of your horse’s feet

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Winterizing Your Horses Feet

  1. 1. focus on farriery PART 3Winterizing Your Horse’s FeetCold, mud, snow, and ice present challenges to the health of your horse’s feetBy Tom InczewskI, cJF information on common winter hoof is- in these conditions. Mud gets packedwITH cHRIsTy wesT sues and prevention. beneath the pad and with each step, theP reparing your horse for winter water is pushed out of the mud, leaving means different things in different Location, Location, Location an accumulation of dirt between the pad geographic areas. For some, winter Horse owners in much of the country ex- and the sole of the foot. These dirt balls, oris time to remove a horse’s shoes and give perience snow and freezing temperatures anything else packed very tightly againsthim a break, while for others winter is a throughout winter, while others might the sole, can cause bruising and compres-prime show season. Either way, remember experience only a wet season. During a sion of the sole’s blood vessels, which willthat winter is not a time to neglect your wet season winter, horses’ feet are often- result in lameness. If those mud balls werehorse’s feet. continuously exposed to mud. Such pro- to remain in there for weeks or months, There are a few reasons why your horse’s longed wet conditions can lead to very soft pedal osteitis (inflammation and demin-feet might need less attention in winter feet that are susceptible to more serious eralization [softening] of the coffin bone)than in summertime. First, you might not problems, including hoof wall separation, could result. For this reason, I recommendbe riding and wearing his feet down as thrush, and puncture wound abscesses. that pad-wearing horses live in a dry areamuch, and second, most horses’ feet grow Seek prompt veterinary care should your most of the time.more slowly in cold weather and, thus, horse experience any of these problems, A similar problem can develop in ar-can handle an extra week or two between and immediately relocate your horse to a eas with severe winter weather. Snow cantrims as compared to summertime. clean, dry area to prevent further damage. build up on the bottoms of a horse’s feet However, wintertime rains and snows The risks of excess moisture are exac- in the right conditions and slowly packbring their own set of challenges to winter erbated when horses wear full hoof pads into balls of ice. This can create the samehoof care, from mud/ice balls in the feetto thrush. Thus, it’s essential to keep an UPCOMING TOPICSeye on your horse’s feet even if you’re notriding, picking them out frequently and FEBRUARY Feeding Your Horse’s Feetchecking for problems. Read on for more APRIL Spring & Seasonal Founder: Lush Pasture Risks Anne eBeRHARdTWintertime rains and snows add challenges to winter hoof care, from mud/ice balls in the feet to thrush. Pick your horse’s feet out frequently, even ifyou’re not riding much, so you can check for problems.The horse TheHorse.com 1
  2. 2. FOCUS ON FARRIERY PART 3 pressure problems experienced by horses sharp shoeing living in mud with full pads, including a Some horse owners remove horses’ higher risk of lameness and pedal osteitis. shoes during the winter months if they The traditional way to prevent snow don’t plan to ride. But those who con- buildup is to apply grease to the bottom of tinue to ride their shod horses in frozen the horse’s feet hourly during a ride. These conditions generally need to takes steps to days, owners often spray cooking oil on improve traction and avoid slips that can the horse’s soles for the same purpose. lead to both horse and rider injury. As a farrier, however, I recommend us- Historically, such “sharp shoeing” in- ing specialized pads (also called bubble or volved one-inch spikes in the shoe toes and rim pads) that pop snow out of the hoof heels to pierce the frozen ground. These every time the horse steps down. It’s a days, much more practical and less poten- very effective and much cleaner method to tially dangerous approaches include bori- meRRI melde avoid snow and ice buildup. Properly fit- um (tungsten carbide) or similar products ted boots can also help avoid snow build- bonded to the bottom of the shoe. These up, but they can be very slippery in snow Ice balls can bruise a horse’s feet and reduce modified shoes provide most horses with and ice unless they are fitted with studs. traction, but special pads can pop the snow out adequate traction to manage in the snow If you’re in an area where subfreezing with each step. and ice. Another option is adding studs temperatures are the norm for long pe- to the shoes, which can be removed when riods of time, frostbite is a small risk for The good news is that the shelter you the need for extra traction melts away. Still equine feet (more so for foals or ill/elderly provide to keep the rest of your horse’s another is studded hoof boots. adults) despite a shunting mechanism body healthy in winter (such as a barn, Horses adapt remarkably well to extreme that diverts most blood away from the run-in shed, or grove of trees) can give his climates, and when properly maintained, extremities and toward the body’s core in feet a break from the snow and help stave they can stay healthy and serviceable even very cold weather. off frostbite. in the harshest winter conditions. h FarrierArticleAd101310.pdf 10/13/10 3:02:56 PM SPONSORED BY Health & Vitality: From the Inside Out LLOYD, Inc. provides the right foundation for your horse: C M Bio-Meth Y Biotin & Methionine to support healthy hooves.CMMY Equ-Aid PlusCY Biotin, Methionine and a balancedCMY formulation of vitamins & minerals for K overall health and performance. Target IR™ Nutritional supplement specifically formulated to deliver optimal nutrition for insulin-resistant and grass fed horses. FREE SAMPLES LLOYD, Inc. · 800-831-0004 · www.lloydinc.com AVAILABLE! Available through veterinary distributors nationwide. The horse TheHorse.com 2

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