Winter is here! As the season welcomes wintry landscapes and cozy nights in—it also brings not-so-welcome bone-chilling temperatures, freezing rain and snow, and some potentially icy conditions for you and your horse to navigate.
While our four-legged friends are built to endure the elements and are more nimble than we, slipping risks still go up in winter. Freeze-thaw weather patterns especially create dangerous conditions for horses trying to pick their way across icy stalls, north sides of buildings, and frozen spillover around watering troughs.
You want to keep your horse safe from missteps and serious injury, and we want to help you. Here are some tips to keep stalls from reaching skating-rink status and to help your horse find solid footing as he traverses icy ground.
First, let’s give our equine friends a little credit. Horses are savvy and will limit activity and avoid icy terrain where they can. It’s up to horse owners, however, to prevent and be on the lookout for icy conditions that horses can’t avoid—like in stalls, trailers, or around feeding and drinking areas.
So what’s a horse owner to do? First, repair leaky rain gutters on barns or buildings that will drip and form freezing water on concrete.
Remove snow from high-use pathways and paddocks. This will decrease the amount of water buildup and frozen puddles that appear once things start to thaw.
Also avoid water spillage when filling troughs. And fix that leaky spigot!
Finally, make sure to build up sunken ground where water collects and pools around troughs.
Spread the Traction
Stalls and hauling trailers can also get icy and create dangerous situations for horses. To minimize risk, scatter on the pet-friendly salt or grit. Traction can be added by applying sand, wood shavings, straw—or Redmond’s Nature’s Blend Ice Slicer—to trailer floors or concrete. Slightly wetting icy surfaces before applying material will improve sticking power and help your horse find a firm foothold.
Roll out the Rugs
Have some old rugs on hand? Turn them into a winter walkway! Rugs make for a quick and easy coverlet when you need to lead your horse over an icy patch or out of the stall for turnout time. Keep rugs stashed in the barn for ready access and roll them out when required. Stall mats can also help.
Mind the Hoof
Generally, a bare hoof is safer than an ironclad one. Yes, going barefoot during winter—a notion we humans shiver at—actually gives your horse more traction in snow and ice than going shod. Plus it gives your horse’s feet a chance to rest for a few months. Trimming hooves will also reduce snowpack into soles and lower the chance of sliding.
If you decide to keep your horse shod through the winter months, that’s okay too. Just make sure your horse is properly fitted, and consider adding studs to the bottom of shoes. This will help with grip and keep your horse surefooted and safe.Buy now