As seen in The Horse posted by Nancy S. Loving, DVM | Nov 10, 2019 | Article, Barns and Sheds, Body Condition, Horse Care, Musculoskeletal System, Nutrition, Respiratory System, Seasonal Care, Winter Care
NOTE: horses in the picture above have boots on front feet to help with traction
Here is an important discussion regarding your horse and their safety in the winter!
While turning a horse out is ideal for his general health, doing so in questionable winter footing is not always a safe bet. “It’s dangerous to turn horses out when the ground is frozen in ruts created by hoof prints or vehicular traffic–I have seen coffin bone fractures as a result of a horse stepping into a frozen rut,” says Elford. “Also, following a thaw, ‘lakes’ of (pooled) water then freeze overnight with pastures turning into ‘glare ice.’ This increases the risk of fractured legs and split pelvises.” Plan ahead to have a safe, dry area to keep horses in times like these when traction is at a minimum. Alternatively, keep some form of gravel or even kitty litter available to put onto unavoidable icy areas.
Exercise and Feet
To keep your horse in moderate fitness and ready for more intense conditioning come spring, keep him in light exercise during winter. Besides benefiting musculoskeletal and mental health, Elford remarks, “Exercise is also important to maintain intestinal motility.” Turnout and/or consistent light riding both provide exercise.
In preparing your horse’s feet for winter, Elford recommends removing shoes if the horse isn’t worked heavily. However, “if you intend to ride consistently, particularly on trails, and feel the need for shoes,” he says, “then shoeing with snow pads helps clear snow from the bottom of shod hooves–this minimizes stumbling over ice balls.”
He describes methods to increase horseshoe traction on packed snow and ice: “Drilled-in studs about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch long or borium-tipped horseshoe nails provide grip without causing excessive, unyielding hoof grab.”