Farriers' Roundtable

Q: Where do you place traction for ice?

A: Well, if you mention Alaska, you think ice. So yes, I do lots of ice shoes. When I apply traction to a shoe — I usually use Borium or drive-in studs and frost nails — I have to take several things into consideration.

  1. What is this horse’s job?
  2. Its conformation.
  3. Its environment.

These factors help me determine where and what kind of traction to use. You wouldn’t use a small drive stud on a draft horse pulling a sleigh or logging. Also, if the horse has issues such as founder, you wouldn’t want a lot of traction, if any, on the toe area. Horses that stay indoors won’t need aggressive traction like a horse that’s kept outside.

Here in Alaska, most ice shoes mean traction and snow repelling. Think about what kind of snow pad you’re using and make the traction the appropriate size in height to accommodate for the pad.

Another consideration is how to apply the traction to the shoe; Drill Tech in the forge, drive-in stud or oxyacetylene torch. I mostly use a torch to apply Borium, because it allows me to apply it to more areas without messing up nail holes. It also lets me customize the height. However, it means I have to carry more flammables and grit sizes for a wide range of horses.

Remember, too much traction can sore a horse as easily as one left to slip while barefoot. Think about the three…

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