Win­ter SHOE SMARTS

EQUUS - - Eq Tack & Gear -

If you’ll be work­ing your horse over icy, frozen or other ques­tion­able foot­ing this win­ter, now is the time to talk to your far­rier about trac­tion de­vices and/or snow pads for your shod horses. You may not need to make any shoe­ing changes un­til the weather ac­tu­ally turns, but know­ing what you want to try will speed up that process when the time comes.

You’ll want to pro­vide a horse with just enough grip, but not too much. Studs, calks and sim­i­lar de­vices that pro­trude from a shoe to al­low it to “grab” onto hard foot­ing tend to work well, but come at a phys­i­cal cost. They can in­crease tor­sion of a horse’s limbs, lead­ing to stress on the ten­dons, mus­cles and joints.

A good far­rier will be fa­mil­iar with the range of op­tions, in­clud­ing de­vices that can be re­moved when not needed, and able to dis­cuss them all with you. You can also in­crease trac­tion of a shoe with­out pro­tru­sions. “Fullered” and “swedged” shoes have grooves along their ground sur­faces. For many plea­sure horses, this is all that’s needed to pre­vent slips on dicey foot­ing.

If sig­nif­i­cant snow­fall is ex­pected in your area, your far­rier can add “snow­ball pads” un­der­neath most shoes to “pop” snow loose with each step and pre­vent the buildup that can make walk­ing dif­fi­cult.

If your horse isn’t shod, your only op­tion for in­creas­ing trac­tion is a “grippy” hoof boot, but that will re­quire some vig­i­lance on your part to make sure it fits well enough to not be­come a haz­ard it­self. In a pinch, a thick layer of petroleum jelly or veg­etable short­en­ing can pre­vent snow buildup in an un­shod horse’s hooves, but both tend to wear off quickly in win­ter con­di­tions. Boots or shoes with snow pads are a bet­ter op­tion for the du­ra­tion of the sea­son.

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