Winter hoof care is an issue that tends to get overlooked. With less riding time and less frequent trips to the barn, hoof care must be kept on schedule.
Many horse owners choose to pull their horses shoes during the winter. Barefoot horses have better traction on icy ground. This could be a good option for your horse. However, if hooves are not properly maintained with routine trimmings, they may begin to break off or crack. The trimmings must be monitored because feet can become bruised or sore when walking on rough or frozen ground if they are trimmed too short.
Keeping your horse’s shoes on is also an option for many horse owners. A concave shoe may be a better alternative than your standard keg shoe. The concave shoe is angled and shallow, which releases the snow, preventing build up. Regular pads or snow pads can be a good choice as well. Snow pads are designed with a “bulging bubble” in the center that expands and contracts as the hoof sets down. Make the best decision for your horse when deciding between barefoot hooves or specific shoes. Be sure to keep in mind that picking hooves regularly make a world of a difference! This will remove debris such as rocks and ice, and will also prevent snow build up. You AND your horse will appreciate the extra attention when springtime rolls around.
For more information about winter hoof care and shoe options visit http://www.extension.org/pages/25673/winter-care-for-horses
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