Does circulation to the hoof increase when standing on cold ground?
So I've noticed my horses' hooves are warmer when I first bring them in. They are turned out on a frozen mud/ice disaster right now - it's what everything around here is unfortunately. After some lunging to warm up, their hooves feel cooler. Does exercise cool them down, or does circulation to their feet increase to compensate for the cold ground they are standing on and keep their feet from freezing?
"Here? It's like asking a bunch of rednecks which is better--Ford or Chevy?" ~Deltawave
The exercise will increase circulation. Standing around not moving, doesn't really do anything to help or hinder circulation much. Though if the standing is for long periods of time, the horse might get some fluid buildup in the legs, same as is possible when standing around in a stall for long times. Legs are not moving enough for putting pressure on hooves, with weight on and off in stepping, to increase circulation enough so fluids don't accumulate.
You really want horse to have cooler or cold, hooves and legs, even when the temps are low. Cold legs and hooves are a good thing on your equines, no inflamation going on.
The circulation into and out of the hoof is tightly regulated by many things, including time of day, time of year, ambient temperature, movement, diet, and probably a bunch of other things we don't even know about yet.
Mine often have ice cold feet in the mornings this time of year (although I certainly don't check them every day or anything) but they are out all the time and I think they spend the last hour before I come down to feed standing in the snow staring at the house.
I've given up trying to make predictions on when their feet are going to feel warm or cold, though, because it never seems to follow any pattern.
A horse's feet and legs are slender and mostly made of bone and tendons, which does not require the blood supply that muscle does. The way their circulatory system is set up, the small vessels in the lower limb are able to shunt blood away from the small capillaries which helps decrease the amount of heat lost to the environment and making the hoof well adapted for the cold!
Are they warm only after they come in? Not sure if this happens in hooves, but reactive hypermia occurs when an area that has previously had blood shunted away 'catches up' by increasing flow above normal.
This is why your cheeks are red when you come in from the cold.