• Looking After Your Horses Hooves In Winter


    We make sure our horses are warm and well fed during the winter months, but we should also give consideration to their hooves.

    Cold weather can have an adverse effect your horse’s feet, as hooves grow differently in the winter and are susceptible to seasonal problems.

    The weather can be so changeable in the winter months, with wet spells followed quickly by dry. These conditions can cause the hoof wall to expand and contract, which allows bacteria to get into the capsule and cause abscesses.

    This can even happen overnight and cause lameness, with the more severe abscesses needing to be drained. Horses with pre-existing weak feet are more likely to develop abscesses in the winter as the water can effect horn tissue.

    Thrush is another problem which is worse in the winter. The moisture in winter ground where the temperatures do not dip below freezing can feed a chronic thrush problem or lead to the creation of a new one.

    Treating and preventing thrush requires a cooperative effort between the horse owner, farrier and veterinarian. The first step is removing as much affected tissue as possible before killing the organism. This can be done with any one of many products available for the job. Finally, you will need to alter the horse’s footing where possible to keep feet consistently dry.

    Snow accumulation is not such a big problem in the UK, but wet snow can melt and quickly refreeze if it becomes tightly packed into a shod horse’s foot. This then causes ice balls to form at the centre of the shoe which can make the horse trip, cause injury or lead to soreness.

    Be sure to keep an eye on your horse’s feet during the cold spells and they will come out the other side happy and healthy.