Horses that are not to be used during winter should have their shoes pulled and their feet trimmed. This will prevent snow buildup or “snowballing.” Due to the fact that hooves grow much slower during cold weather, idle horses may not need their feet trimmed until early spring.
When horses are to be used during the winter months on ice and snow, we recommend Borium® (8-10 mesh) or Carbraze® (4-6 mesh) or Drill-Tec® put on with an oxy-acetylene torch and anti-snow balling pads for most horses.
If the horses are to wear bar shoes the year round, such as navicular horses, it is essential they be shod with anti-snowball pads to prevent extra stress on the navicular area due to snowball build-up. Full anti-snowball pads seem to work better than rim pads when used with bar shoes. We usually only apply the pads on front feet.
We have one local ranch that has us shoe their working horses with hex nuts welded on edge to the shoe for traction. We put two at the toe on the edge of each crease and one on each heel. It seems to work quite well and is cheaper and faster to apply than the tungsten carbide materials.
We teach students to put on Borium® and to apply screw-in studs. Screw-ins are more popular than drive-ins due to the fact that the rider can change the height and traction of the studs depending on the conditions they encounter. Studs are more widely used in some areas than Borium® due to cost.
A temporary fix for slippery conditions is to use frost rib nails or duratrac nails with Borium® coated heads. We recommend using a different hammer on shoes and nails containing Borium® as it may chip your hammer face. Also, we use a plate that is secured in the anvil hardy hole to prevent marking the anvil face.
Many ranchers in our area self-feed round bales during the winter. This works fine as long as the weather is cold, the hay is not top quality and the horses are not overly aggressive eaters. However, if the weather is unseasonably warm or very high quality hay is fed, horses that are aggressive eaters founder when fed in this manner. Also, in the early spring when new grass is growing that is high in fructans, we see more founder than at other times of the year.