Leslie Carrig of High Desert Hoof Care shares below with us some great information about winterizing your horses hooves.

With the arrival of winter, it’s time to think about your horse’s hooves.  If your horse is shod, most Farriers will tell you it’s a good idea to pull the shoes for the winter and give those hooves a healing period. If you live in a snowy climate and you choose to keep your horse shod, you will probably need snow pads to avoid the hooves balling up with snow and borium for traction on the ice. Many people choose to just pull the shoes and take a break from riding.

The benefits of pulling the shoes go way beyond avoiding a slip in the snow. With the horse’s shoes off, your horse can attain the full expansion of the hoof, helping to de-contract the heels and return circulation to it’s fullest. With the return of full circulation a much healthier hoof wall can be attained. This will speed up progress on growing out cracks and flares. The horse will also be wearing its hooves in between trimmings, instead of getting longer and longer. This will enable your farrier to make more progress at getting those toes back or those heels down. The horses I see that are shod back to back, year after year, have the most severe problems.

Keep a regular trimming schedule throughout the winter, no longer than 6 weeks between trims. Don’t think that just because you aren’t riding as much, the hooves don’t need attention. Yes, the growth can slow down some in winter, but a regular trim schedule will make it possible to actually move forward in the process of growing a healthy hoof.

You don’t have to choose between pulling horses shoes and riding anymore. The hoof boot industry has taken off with the barefoot movement. This benefits us all. If you think of hoof boots as the old “Easy” boot that required a crow bar to remove, yet fell off no matter how tight you clamped them on, things have changed. The new boots really work! I would suggest checking out the EasyCare website. They have been one of the leaders in the boot industry and their site is loaded with great information, including a hoof boot dealer locator list.

It’s best to get some help fitting the boots and tips on applying and removing them. It may seem awkward at first, but it soon becomes just another part of tacking your horse. There are so many choices in boot styles available that there will surely be one that fits your horse and your needs.

If you can keep riding that horse this winter it will benefit his mind, body, and hooves. Winter is a great time to try out the hoof boots. You will be surprised at how healthy the hooves can become in a few months, with regular, thoughtful trimming. You just might like the positive results you are seeing and the ease of using hoof boots, and decide to stick with it!