The Importance Of Winter Hoof Care

The Importance Of Winter Hoof Care

During the hotter summer season many people maintain a good hoof care routine, to help keep hooves moisturized and prevent damage due to hard ground conditions and dry weather. However, did you know it is just as important to maintain a good hoof care routine over the dark, cold winter months?

Obvious hoof care and maintenance routines stay in place such as picking the hooves out daily, ensuring the farrier visits regularly and continued use of a hoof supplement. However, there are other hoof care routines which should be in place to maintain optimum hoof health.

Cold weather affects the circulation in the hoof. In cold weather conditions the circulation decreases, this means that hoof growth and repair also decrease. Horse’s with a history of laminitis can be affected more by this as they can have pre-existing damage to the vascular supply within the hoof.

 

Wet Weather

An increase in wet, damp weather conditions can wreak havoc on hooves and lower limbs. The amount of natural wear will decrease during the winter due to the soft, wet ground, this can contribute to uneven wear and unbalanced hooves. The frog may also shed dead skin and the callus of the hoof can shed due to the increase of moisture. Thrush infections may also develop in excessively wet conditions as bacteria like damp, warm environments, such as up the sides of the frog.  Minimizing moisture levels during the winter is important for all round hoof health.

If the horse is shod, shoes should be checked daily for any looseness or damaged/missing nails. Thick, deep mud can cause shoes to become loose or come off altogether. It is important to check shoes thoroughly to help prevent injury or lameness. If shoes become loose dirt and debris can become trapped between the shoe and the hoof, this can lead to infection.

Horses can be turned out in hoof boots to help protect the sole and frog, boots can also be used as a spare tire if a horse loses a shoe. Boots should only be used as a temporary measure, especially as some types of boots could rub or cause irritation to the skin if left on for too long when wet. Boots should be dried thoroughly between uses.

 

Cold Weather

Cold weather can mean the paddocks freeze, this can cause the ground to become extremely hard and result in bruising to the soles of the horse’s feet. Hoof hardeners can be used on the soles of the hooves in order to help reduce the risk of bruising and hoof boots can be used where applicable to aid with comfort on uneven, hard ground. Wet ground may also freeze and become slippery. Rock salt can be used to defrost the ice on the ground or sand can be used to aid with traction.

Snow can also provide some problems for horse owners, usually in the form of balls of ice in the horse’s hooves. Barefoot horses rarely suffer from this occurring however shod horses are prone to collecting snowballs. These balls of ice and snow can cause problems such as bruising, discomfort and tendon and ligament damage. Hoof oils can be painted on the soles of the feet to try and help avoid balls from occurring or pads can be applied by a farrier. Alternatively hoof boots can be worn to protect the hooves. If the balling persists turnout should be limited to prevent injury.

 

Stabling

 

 

 Stabling at night is great way to protect your horse’s hooves. Bringing the horse in out of the damp conditions will give the hooves and legs a chance to dry Bedding such as shavings is great for wicking away and absorbing moisture to aid the drying process. The bed should be kept clean and dry, this will provide the best conditions for optimum hoof health. Dirty and damp bedding can contribute to bacterial and fungal infections such as thrush. Horses with hoof problems are best stabled at night when it is coldest. A thick bed will provide warmth and protection. Products such as sole paint can be applied when bringing in to help prevent bacterial and fungal invasion, this is particularly useful for mucky horses. 

Before stabling the horse, excessive mud can be removed with a damp sponge. Sponging the legs and drying them with a towel will help to keep them clean, especially at times when the horse may need to wear protective boots. This is personal preference as some horse owners dislike washing legs as too much moisture can contribute to lower limb infections such as mud fever, mud can be left to dry then brushed off with a stiff brush to avoid excessive use of water on the legs. Read more on the prevention and treatment of mud fever here. 

 

 

 

Topical Treatments

There are many topical treatments available on the market. It is important to chose the right ones for your horse and the time of the year.

 

There are 4 main types of hoof treatment:

Drying – These products are hardeners and can be used to strengthen the hoof.

Lotions – These products are used to moisturize the hoof during dry conditions.

Oil Based – These products can be used to trap moisture or to prevent moisture from entering.

Anti-Bacterial/Anti-Fungal – These products are used to treat infection and bacterial invasions.

 

 

During winter the ideal hoof ointment is oil based. When applied to clean, dry hooves it will help to prevent excessive moisture levels from contributing to damaging the hooves. It can also be used to help prevent moisture from entering holes such as nail holes or cracks. Many oil-based products also contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, making them an ideal solution for preventing infection at the same time. Lotion based hoof products are designed to moisturized the hooves, therefore they are best used in the summer when hooves are too dry.

Drying products are good for strengthening the hoof when an increase in moisture has caused it to become soft. Hoof hardeners applied to the sole will aid with the prevention of bruising on hard ground as the hoof will become tougher and more resilient.

Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal treatments can be used to treat hoof infections such as thrush or infection of the white line. Alternatively, they can be used as a preventative measure. Sprays consisting of natural ingredients are a popular choice as they are quick and easy to apply, they will also not damage any sensitive structures and healthy tissue. When an infection is present, stronger, longer lasting products may be required such as Anti-Bac, Field Paste or Thrush Stop.

 

 

 

Our Top Picks for Hoof Care This Winter

 

Drying Treatments

The damp weather can cause hooves to become too soft, the use of a drying treatment over winter is recommended to help maintain a strong structure and help prevent bruising or soreness from hard ground during cold, frozen periods.

We Recommend Using:

 

Keratex Hoof Hardener

Image result for keratex hardener

  • Scientifically proven to harden and strengthen the hooves.
  • With a unique flexing agent, the formula cross links the keratin and proteins in the hoof in order to create a stronger horn structure.
  • To be applied to the horn and sole but not the frog or coronary band.

 

Equitech Hoof’s Tuff

Image result for equitechs hooves tuff

  • Gel formula designed to help harden hooves.
  • Formula cross links the damaged and swollen keratin tubules of the horn.
  • Contains natural antibacterial agents which will help minimize hoof destroying microbes.

 

Red Horse Products Stronghorn

Image result for red horse stronghorn online equine

  • Nourishes and toughens horn tissue using all-natural ingredients.
  • Contains powerful disinfectant.
  • Easy to use spray bottle, making application quick and easy.

 

Oil Based Products

During dry periods oil-based products can be used to trap moisture in and hydrate the hooves however, in cold winter months they are ideal for use as a water repelling barrier. During wet periods the application of oil-based hoof products to dry hooves will help to stop the hooves becoming excessively wet which could lead to softening of the horn.

 

Red Horse Products HydroHoof

Image result for red horse hydrohoof online equine

  • Designed to balance moisture levels within the hoof.
  • Formulation prevents excessive moisture absorption and only allows the hoof to absorb as much moisture it requires.
  • Helps to prevent the hoof becoming soft and soggy during wet conditions.
  • Contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to protect the hoof.

 

Keratex Coconut Oil Hoof Balm

Image result for keratex coconut oil hoof balm

  • Oil-based balm contains natural oils and waxes.
  • Used to form a protective barrier to provide water resistance to the hooves.
  • Should be applied to dry hooves.
  • Provides nourishment for hooves and is a breathable formula.

 

Carr & Day & Martin Daily Hoof Barrier

Image result for carr day martin hoof barrier

  • A one-way barrier for protecting the hoof from excessive absorption of water and urine.
  • Breathable formula.
  • Contains anti-bacterial agents.
  • Should be applied to dry hooves and is ideal for daily use.
  • Helps to prevent hooves becoming soft and crumbly in wet weather.

 

Kevin Bacons Hoof Dressing 

Image result for kevin bacons hoof

  • Penetrates deep into the hoof to provide maximum nourishment.
  • Helps to maintain moisture levels within the hoof and prevent drying out.
  • Protects the hoof from dampness and provides a water-resistant barrier.
  • Promotes horn growth.
  • Liquid formula also available which doesn’t harden in cold temperatures.

 

Silverfeet

Image result for silverfeet

  • Suitable for daily use
  • A unique blend of natural ingredients with added silver.
  • The addition of silver prevents the growth of hoof bacteria and fungi within just hours of application.
  • The formula moisturizes and conditions hooves.
  • Antimicrobial properties make it suitable for preventing hoof infections and it can be used to treat minor infections.

 

 

Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Fungal Treatments

 

Swan Anti-Bac

Image result for swan antibac

  • Recommended and used by farriers.
  • Ideal for hoof diseases such as Seedy Toe, White Line Disease and Thrush.
  • Anti-bacterial and Anti-Fungal for the maintenance of healthy feet.
  • A popular choice for treating stubborn or reoccurring infections. 
  • Easy to apply liquid formula penetrates deep into crevasses of the hoof.

 

Amberley Aromatics Essential Hoof Spray

  • Made from 100% natural ingredients.
  • High levels of neem and other essential oils with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties
  • The spray is very effective as a preventative measure against thrush and other bacterial or fungal infections of the hoof.
  • Eliminates bacteria and fungi in order to maintain optimum hoof health.
  • Quick and easy application in the form of a spray.

 

Red Horse Products Sole Cleanse, Sole Paint and Sole Cleanse

Sole Cleanse: Thrush busting spray made from all-natural ingredients. Helps to promote the regrowth of healthy tissue and eliminates bacteria and fungi from crevices in the hooves. Great for flushing holes and cracks. Designed to be used as a preventative against hoof bacteria and infection the spray is easy and quick to apply.

Sole Paint: A paste containing a stronger percentage of active ingredients than Sole Cleanse. It is ultimately designed for use during periods of stabling and is easier to apply than Field Paste, but not as effective if used on solely field kept horses due to the consistency.

Field Paste: Much thicker formula and contains an even stronger percentage of active ingredients than Sole Paint. It is designed for use in field kept horses. If the horse is kept partly stabled this can be used but a thinner layer should be applied.

 

SBS Thrush Stop

Image result for sbs thrush stop

  • Creates an antiseptic barrier which prevents thrush from getting to healthy tissue.
  • The formula bonds to healthy proteins and will not interfere with new horn growth.
  • Product is safe to use.
  • A popular choice against stubborn or re-occurring infections.
  • The blue version has an added fungicide for the treatment of bacterial and fungal hoof infection.
  • An easy to apply gel formula makes application quick as the product doesn’t run.

 

Whatever the weather this winter, ensure you're prepared with our extensive range of Topical Hoof Treatments! A good hoof care routine is vital for maintaining healthy hooves year round.

13th December 2018

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