By American Farriers Journal Staff

The winter months are not kind to equine hooves. Those that spend time outside often are in mud or frozen ground, while those that are indoors often are standing in bedding that’s soaked with urine.

Here are some tips for your clients to keep in mind.

  • Pick out hooves everyday and examine them and the pastern area for bruises, cuts or the start of skin infections. It’s important to have any ailments treated quickly.
  • Since hoof growth is often slower in cold weather, cracks and other hoof wall defects might not grow out as quickly.
  • Your farrier might choose to leave your unshod horse a little longer to give your horse more clearance to help avoid sole bruises as they walk on frozen mud.
  • Shod horses might need traction such as Borium, studs or other applications. Spreading sand or cat litter on paths or at the barn entrance/exit might help both horses and humans.
  • Frozen ground might increase concussion on your horse’s hooves, which can lead to hoof cracks and lameness. If you don’t have access to an unfrozen riding area, it’s a good idea to limit the amount of intense work you ask of your horse.
  • Although unshod hooves shed snow more efficiently, shod hooves collect hardened snow more readily, which can be dangerous while walking or make walking difficult. Ask your farrier about solutions that can help your horse.
  • Frozen streams and ponds are obviously slippery for horses, as well as humans, but they also can be hazardous as they can break through and become immersed in frigid water. If possible, turn out horses in safe areas or fence off the hazard.