It getting to be that time of year. Cold and rainy here pretty much for the rest of the week, and the boys are in their brand new turnout sheets.
As some may know, I lost Trav to a hip fracture in Feb after he slipped and fell on a snowy day. I'd checked the weather, and it was just supposed to be a light snow, no ice until that evening, so I let them out. So now, of course, with winter around the corner, I'm paranoid about letting them out, especially since the access area in front of the barn is concrete.
I've gone 10 years without a problem, but now I realize it might have just been dumb luck. I'm thinking of various options to make the access area safer. Should I go the special shoeing route (pins, borium), barefoot (not a very good option for Inky), or invest in rubber mats for a huge 18 x 36 area? DH is totally against the mat idea, but I'm thinking its a long term investment that will pay for itself if it helps me avoid further injury and special shoes!
If I go the mat route, can anyone recommend a good supplier?
I definitely prefer mats over bare concrete in a high traffic area if it is at all exposed to weather, especially if your horses are shod.
I don't know where you are or how bad your winters are, but borium is a possibility in the shoes. The thing you have to look at is what kind of riding you do and what terrain they usually are on, and whether you want that increased traction all the time. I would tend to say no to that if your only concern is walking them across that one concrete bit, but if you're worried about them in the pasture as well it is definitely something to talk to your farrier about. There are different ways of applying it to create differing amounts of grab, too. I wouldn't pull shoes off a horse that needs them just because you are concerned he might slip, for sure.
Otherwise, just work to keep the concrete area as free of ice as possible.
A less expensive option for the concrete would be to "rough" up the surface. Digging grooves into the concrete with some sort of concrete cutter, or applying a textured surface. I've seen that done in garages. You paint a layer of paste on the concrete with a broom and then sprinkle some fine gravel on top. Would give the horses some traction.
We have heavy clay soil, which can get pretty slippery in wet weather as well, even with a good layer of topsoil, I've seen them slip and slide on the base when we've have wet weather. My farrier put pins on Rico last winter, but I hate them, way too sharp, and my guys like to lie down and roll alot, so I think the pins are an injury waiting to happen.