Horseshoeing for Winter

winter horseshoeing

This article applies to horses that are living and working outside during the winter. Most show horses that live in training and show stables live and work inside during winter conditions

Last updated: January 29, 2016 at 21:57 pm

Keeping my stuff warm
Keeping all my stuff nice and warm.

After about 25 years of horseshoeing in the Cincinnati area, I have a few ways to keep us all working in reasonable comfort – even in the winter. Keeping our horses safe and sound in winter is certainly an additional challenge. Getting along with frozen things to get our horses taken care of can be done a lot easier just by thinking ahead. It’s far from rocket science, but taking advantage of what we have available really makes for a nicer day of handling cold tools and hooves, and also keeps those horses safer.

The first question of getting through winter is: Can the horse go barefoot?

barefoot is best
Barefoot is best, if you can get away with it.

Many horses in my clientèle are in much lighter work for the winter. Non working or lightly worked horses usually do not need horseshoes unless some lameness problem otherwise warrants shoes. Barefoot is obviously more natural and capable of better traction and shedding snow. The biggest problem of horses that are shod in the winter, snow balls, are rarely an issue for barefoot horses.
Thrush is a common problem in winter.
Thrush is a common problem in winter.
One consistent problem I see in horse hooves around here during winter is thrush. It does not seem to be so much that they went through a wet October and November, but that the fairly extreme changes in weather here causes the frogs to shed. Many times, if not most of the time that shedding goes poorly. Thrush sets up in between the layers of the frog and there isn’t really even a way for owners to notice it as they pick out the hooves.

Snow Pads and Equithane Are Effective in Keeping Snow Balls At Bay In Horseshoes

snowball pads
Snowball pads.

I’m missing a picture of the anti-snowball rim pads.

Freshly applied equithane
Freshly applied equithane.

I learned this lesson often. Equithane does not work well if it is cold. When the temperature is below freezing, it seems that it needs to be warmed more to make up for the ambient temperature. If it doesn’t feel warm or even almost too warm, then it is not ready to use at the horse. This stuff cools off fast in the few minutes it takes to prepare it to be used, then it comes out a long mixing tip that cools it off even more quickly as it is being used. Then it hits a cold hoof! Just to repeat myself, I make sure this stuff is good and warm.

Warming Equithane on the dash between stops is helpful.
Warming Equithane on the dash between stops is helpful.

Horseshoe Traction Options for Snow and Ice

Kerckhaert Classic Roller with Drill Tech
Kerckhaert Classic Roller with Drill Tech
Kerckhaert DF with Mustad Drive In Studs
Kerckhaert DF with Mustad Drive In Studs

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