We had our first big snow storm of the winter this weekend and I was so glad that I’d pulled the horses’ shoes already. No hassle about having the “wrong” shoes on and dealing with snow-packed hooves or slippery conditions. I saw a friend last week who was fretting over the fact that her farrier was coming after the storm, and I thought about how uncomfortable a horse can be with large snowballs accumulating in their shoes.
Long time readers know that I had Freedom barefoot for a couple of years. The past two I’ve put shoes on for hunting, because they protected his feet better for hunting. But I pulled them as soon as the season ended and the weather (and ground) cooperated.
This year, my farrier came right after a good thaw and a rainstorm that left the ground soupy after a week of very cold temperatures and rock hard footing. What a relief! There was no way I was pulling Freedom’s shoes and subjecting him to hard ground. Zelda only had front shoes on, but even then I wanted to make the transition as easy as possible. Plus, I don’t have any hoof boots in her size (huge).
Luckily, we had a week of warmer weather and both of the horses have transitioned well. Freedom was a bit tender footed, but nothing terrible. And now we have about seven inches of snow to cushion his feet.
When I was a kid it was pretty common to pull shoes for the winter. We didn’t ride as much and the winter months were seen as a time to let the hooves recover. I do like to see the nail holes grow out and as long as a horse is comfortable, I think that you end up with healthier feet overall.
I always had a love-hate relationship with Borium — yes, it’s great to have traction on ice, but no, it’s not great to have additional torque on the ligaments and tendons. I don’t ride when it’s really icy, and maybe borium would be better than barefoot for those times, but maybe nothing really keeps you safe.
The other great benefit? Barefoot is oh, so much kinder to my wallet.
How about you? If you live in a part of the country with snow, do you go for winter shoes? Do you pull them for the winter? Or is your horse always barefoot?