Hoof growth slows down in the winter, so taking care of your horse’s feet gets easier, right? Not necessarily. SmartPak’s consulting farrier Danvers Child has the details.
From Danvers: What should horse owners be aware of in order to take great care of their horses’ hooves as winter approaches? Of the infinite variables associated with hoof care, climate is the least controllable. While our horse-keeping and hoof care practices allow us to “control” factors such as nutrition, maintenance, and environment, we’re still at the mercy of Mother Nature, and winter weather poses the most difficulties for both horse owners and farriers.
As winter approaches, hoof growth tends to slow. At the same time, temperature drops cause any moisture pockets within the exfoliating sole to freeze and “slough” dead sole away from the hoof, speeding up the exfoliation process and leaving the hoof with minimal protection.
The thawing and freezing cycle that speeds up exfoliation also has its effect on footing, often causing mud to freeze, which creates uneven ground that can be as dangerous as a “slip and slide” during the day and even more rough and treacherous at night. If you add snow to the wintry mix, you can also add “snowballing” to your footing concerns, as snow builds up and packs into the hoof cavity, creating pressure points and minimizing traction.