The winter months are hard for everyone, especially any animals left outside! We know how to bundle ourselves up in the winter and protect ourselves from the cold, but do you know how to protect your horse’s hooves, which are susceptible to damage from the dry winter air and ice? Here are some important tips to keep your horses happy and healthy during the bitter cold winter months:
Know how to combat slower hoof growth
During the winter, your horse’s hooves will grow slower. Whether this is due to the colder temperatures slowing your horse’s system down or the work (or lack thereof) he is expected to perform, this slowing of your horse’s natural hoof growth can be troubling. Slow growth can delay the discovery of defects on your horse’s hooves, so keep your horse’s active with plenty of walks or exercise to be sure that they are not experiencing any pain.
Use sand or wood ashes to help your horse move
If your horse will be outdoors among the elements, consider placing sand, wood ashes, or wood chips to help the horse feel more comfortable. Icy situations are dangerous for your horse, so remember to proceed with caution and be patient!
Keep an open conversation with your farrier
Snow and ice – and cold weather in general – will change the growth of your horse’s hooves as mentioned above. This may result in seeing your farrier less often than usual. Be sure to ask what tools your farrier uses to fix your horse’s hooves, as they are more vulnerable during the colder seasons.
Change horseshoes if needed
Some horses may need to wear different shoes during the colder months. Anti-snowball rim pads, for example, attach onto the shoe without covering the entire hoof, and this may make it easier for your horses to stay active. Talk to your farrier about the best options for your horse, and consider the horse’s activity level as well.
Accelerate capsule growth
Making sure to accelerate the capsule growth in your horse’s feet will help weaker-footed horses stay healthier during the winter. Be sure to have your farrier and vet choose the right sole depth for your horse’s needs! By doing this, you can help protect your horse from moisture-related bacteria during long periods of rain or snow.
Remove obstacles and hazard
This is probably the cheapest way to keep your horses from getting injured during the winter! Take flower pots away from your horses if they are nearby, as they tend to suddenly break from cold temperatures. Make sure to keep the areas around your gates dry as horses can slip if they gather near it. Always stay alert to changing conditions.