Tips for hoof health in the winter
- Depending on where you live, you might need to adjust some of your hoof care routine in winter. Because of weather, ground conditions, and even how much you ride.
Here are some cold weather hoof care tips
- Keep your horse moving! The hoof pumps blood. The frog and the digital cushion of your horse are the mechanisms for getting blood up your horse’s legs and back into his body. Less movement can interfere with this, as evidenced by stocking up. Also, a horse that moves around is more comfortable in his body and mind!
Keep exercising – it’s good for everyone!
- Do keep up with checking digital pulses. The risk of laminitis doesn’t go away in winter, and for some horses, the risk may increase. And it’s just a nice habit to get into. Here’s a VIDEO for step-by-step instructions into checking your horse’s digital pulse.
- Pick your horse’s hooves more than once or twice a day. There’s usually more mud in winter and you want to be able to check digital pulses often. Hard and frozen ground can be cruel to a hoof.
- Check on the coronary band daily. This is where the hoof grows from, and it’s a common place for abscesses and wounds to happen. Most fuzzy winter coats cover this area, so get in there with your eyes and fingers.
- Use hoof hardeners if needed. Most of them contain Venice turpentine as the main ingredient. Hoof hardeners might help the horse that is more sensitive to the harder ground in winter.
I like hoof boots for the barefoot guys in winter. And sometimes in warmer temps, too!
- Add pads for snow or protection from the hard ground. I’m not always a firm believer in barefoot horses over winter. Bruises are common in the winter, and keeping your horse shod might be in his best interest.
- A thin-soled horse (you may need X-rays to confirm this) might even benefit from a leather pad. Thin-soled horses bruise easily and the winter ground is especially hard on them. Alternatives to leather pads include pour-in pads or any number of rubbery inserts that can add a layer of protection to the hoof.
- Use boots for barefoot horses if the ground and footing are questionable. There are many styles that are appropriate for use during turnouts and/or riding.
- Adjust your farrier visits if appropriate. Many horses slow down in their hoof growth in winter, so you might be able to go another few days or week. Some horses get really chipped up, or the wet/dry cycle is worse and your horse needs more frequent attention.
This area will be major MUD in a matter of days. So. Much. Fun. Not. Really.
- Avoid mud as best you can. Moving to a more agreeable climate is certainly worth considering. If your horses like to congregate in certain areas (GATES!) you can add drainage, gravel, mats, old carpet, or lure them away with slow feeders in other parts of turnout. One of the dangers of mud is that when the pocketed hoof prints freeze, they are a tripping and ankle-breaking hazard. For your horse, too!
What changes to your horse’s hoof care routine do you make in winter?
These handy shopping links can hook you up with some great hoof care products! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which is no extra charge to you! I greatly appreciate your support!
Durasole – for hoof hardening
Cavallo Simple Hoof Boot for Horses, Black – thick-soled hoof boot for riding and hoof wrapping.
EasyCare Easyboot Glove Soft Hoof Boot – these boots are designed for riding, not hoof packing, and have a more precise fit.