Winter can take its toll on a horse. From weight management issues and simply staying warm to hoof problems from walking on the frozen, uneven ground. The Horse Magazine spoke with Dr. Scott Flemming, CF, of Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, and Dr. Tracy Turner of Turner Equine Sports Medicine and Surgery in Big Lake, Minnesota, about the best advice for keeping a horse's hooves healthy in the winter.
Planning ahead is key, which includes knowing what type of conditions are probable for your geographic area and how your horse has historically handled them.
Turner suggests riders be mindful of the footing and ground condition if one plans to ride in the winter. Since horses don't have a large amount of peripheral circulation in their legs, they may be more prone to hoof concussion in winter months when riding on hard or frozen ground. Options for protecting the hooves from concussion and bruising are soft-ride boots or pads under the horse's shoes during the winter months.
In areas that get copious amounts of winter precipitation, owners should regularly check to make sure snow isn't balling up in a horse's frog and sole area, as it can not only cause sole bruising and unsteadiness, but also serious injuries if the horse slips and falls.
Read more about these and other tips at The Horse.
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