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Pulling shoes in winter, your thoughts?

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  • Pulling shoes in winter, your thoughts?

    I got my mare in February, she had very flat hooves and was bare foot. I put shoes on her in April, originally steel. They were too heavy for her so with the next shoeing, we switched to aluminum. Her hooves are looking amazing right now, but I am starting to run into money issues and was debating about pulling her shoes for the winter with the next shoeing. She was barefoot for the 8 years of her life before she wandered into mine. Her work load isn't very heavy right now, we are mostly working on her dressage skills. Because of school she is only being worked 4 days a week. (hopefully this will change after this semester.)

    What are your thoughts for pulling shoes in winter?

  • #2
    I recently pulled my geldings shoes. He had pads on the front also. He is getting the rest of the year off. I longed him yesterday for a few minutes and he is a bit ouchy up front. Hope he toughens up before the ground freezes.

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    • #3
      I don't pull shoes unless they're going to be out of work. Not fair to the horse and potentially can cost you more than shoes if they're feet fall apart.

      For the ouchy horse, I would use turpentine for a couple of weeks to toughen his soles up.

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      • #4
        I pulled my horse's shoes about 3 weeks ago. Actually, he did a good job of pulling one of his front shoes out hunting and basically left very little wall to nail to, so I opted to take him barefoot while the ground was still soft.

        I've been hunting him in front hoof boots and he's been doing fine. He's turned out barefoot and he's had no bruising and very little chipping. I've been treating his hooves with Life Data Hoof Disinfectant which has iodine and tea tree oil in it.

        I had planned to pull his shoes anyway. In the spring he'd been in a field with a tremendous amount of mud and the wet/dry cycling left him with hoof issues.

        You might consider investing in some hoof boots for the front to help your horse through the transition if you go that route.
        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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        • #5
          Funny this thread pops up, as I plan on leaving my mare shod this winter for the first time. I almost always pulled shoes for winter, but she's made it clear in order to be comfortable riding on gravel and pavement, shoes are a necessity.

          I'll add snow pads and perhaps borium as needed, the farrier can make that decision for me. I'm hoping to do rim snow pads, as the "bubble" full pads seem like they're much riskier for thrush. Do most farriers routinely carry the snow rim pads with them? I'm unsure.
          Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

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          • #6
            I virtually always pull shoes in the winter unless the horse clearly can't do without them. Up here we get tons of snow and unless you use snowball pads, barefoot is by far the safest. So off the shoes come in November, and back on they go in March/April for the ones that are working and/or need shoes. I ride less in the winter and virtually always in an indoor, so it's not been a problem for me. This year I have a new horse who needs pads in front, so his fronts will stay on with pads, whereas the backs will probably come off next month.
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            • #7
              When i used to shoe my horses, I always pulled the shoes in November and put them back on in April.

              I ride all winter and my horses do just fine riding barefoot on snow. I think it's good for the horses to have time with out shoes. And winter is the easiest time for that. I don't ride as much as summer and the rocks along the trails are covered in snow.

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              • #8
                We have everyone barefoot at our barn this winter. In particular I've been amazed at the changes in my own horse, who is barefoot for the first time since I got him 9 years ago. His feet have toughend up really well, and his hooves have really improved. I'd forgotten how well it worked to pull the shoes in winter--I guess I'd fallen into the year round routine, and gotten into a rut!
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by sublimequine View Post
                  I'm hoping to do rim snow pads, as the "bubble" full pads seem like they're much riskier for thrush. Do most farriers routinely carry the snow rim pads with them? I'm unsure.
                  Mine does. I've used them for the past few years. Although this year I am looking forward to not paying for winter shoes .
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by crazypaintrider View Post
                    I got my mare in February, she had very flat hooves and was bare foot. I put shoes on her in April, originally steel. They were too heavy for her so with the next shoeing, we switched to aluminum. Her hooves are looking amazing right now, but I am starting to run into money issues and was debating about pulling her shoes for the winter with the next shoeing. She was barefoot for the 8 years of her life before she wandered into mine. Her work load isn't very heavy right now, we are mostly working on her dressage skills. Because of school she is only being worked 4 days a week. (hopefully this will change after this semester.)

                    What are your thoughts for pulling shoes in winter?
                    If this were me, I'd discuss it with my farrier and pull the shoes if he/she agrees that your mare may do fine without them. Make certain your farrier agrees to be available in the event you determine your mare needs the shoes put back on. Sometimes the only way to know for certain is to try it. Money IS important.
                    <><

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      I was going to discuss it with my farrier before making a final decision.
                      She is in Oregon, and winter is the rainy season here. The ground is soft and muddy for most of the winter. I do have access to easy boots for riding. My only concern is that the BO put some gravel down at the gate to her pasture and she would be walking on it to get to her water and in/out of the pasture.
                      She probably would have staid barefoot originally, except for the fact that she had no heel and it wasn't helping her to land heel first. She was also sort of a rescue and was underweight at the time I got her. She is also on a supplement with biotin etc in it.
                      It does seem like December will be an easy month for her, since my parents want me to come home for Christmas and I will not be able to ride her during that time. That should give her a good month to strengthen her hooves.

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                      • #12
                        I pulled my guy's shoes about 6 weeks ago. If we ride out on any rough terrain, we are wearing hoofboots. He is fine in the pasture and arena w/o shoes. It just depends on your situation...
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                        Kathy, Cadet & CCS Silinde
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                        • #13
                          If the horse was fine for many years without shoes, and has only had shoes one for a year, I doubt that the horse will have any problems going back to barefoot. In fact, if the hooves have a better shape to them now, as your post suggests, the horse may actually do better barefoot than she did before.

                          Barefoot is better in the snow and ice, unless you want to go to the expense of borium points on the shoes as well as some kind of pad to prevent snowballs.
                          "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

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                          • #14
                            If our horses arent being ridden- regardless of the season, they get the shoes pulled.

                            If I am ever just riding lightly, a few times a week, and the horse has reasonable feet, shoes come off then.

                            Sounds like your horse has pretty decent feet if she was barefoot for 8yrs. But remember she may need a little bit of an adjustment period when you pull them off. By having her shod since spring, her hooves are probably significantly weaker.


                            I would say go for it, you can always put them back on and this time of year riding is so sporadic. If you are riding in an indoor-then there really is no need for shoes, footing is always soft.

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Well I did pull her shoes.
                              Although after I did it got unusually cold, the ground froze and her feet started to chip and spread. Since I wasn't going to be there, I decided to have the shoes put back on her so at least she would be comfortable.

                              I hope to transition her to barefoot, once I am there and able to keep an eye on her feet. But I don't know if that is possible with her feet. (heck, she was barefoot for 8 years of her life, so she should be able to go back)
                              I do have pictures of her feet if anyone is interested.

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                              • #16
                                If a horse needs shoes to stay sound then it's not a kindness to pull them just 'cause it's winter.

                                G.
                                Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Well you also have the problem of her being trimmed as she would be in preparation for shoes and not a "barefoot" trim. And the fact that I didn't have easy boots or the like to put on her feet to help with the transition.

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                                  • #18
                                    My Walker mare needs her shoes on all fours in order to live comfortably. Summer or winter, work or not, she needs them so we're keeping them on. I realize she is probably not typical.

                                    The other mare only needs them when working on the road. Has been barefoot for 10-11 mos. but is getting them on next trim.
                                    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by crazypaintrider View Post
                                      Well I did pull her shoes.
                                      Although after I did it got unusually cold, the ground froze and her feet started to chip and spread. Since I wasn't going to be there, I decided to have the shoes put back on her so at least she would be comfortable.

                                      I hope to transition her to barefoot, once I am there and able to keep an eye on her feet. But I don't know if that is possible with her feet. (heck, she was barefoot for 8 years of her life, so she should be able to go back)
                                      I do have pictures of her feet if anyone is interested.
                                      sometimes after you pull the shoes you need to keep after the edges a bit at first, maybe a rasp around once a week. The feet tend to break up a little when the shoes first come off because I guess there is brittle hoof that the horse doesn't need.
                                      In the summer one of our horses always get's turned out and we pull the shoes and dont trim him or anything, the edges break up, then eventually the round up themselves and look great. I am sure if we helped him by rasping once in a while it would happen faster

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                                      • #20
                                        My philosophy is to pull shoes whenever they're not needed, although obviously I'm not willy-nilly about it and if a horse is getting 2-3 weeks off or something I won't pull them for that short a break.

                                        So normally my shod horses have their shoes pulled in November, and put back on again in the spring. That's worked for me pretty well, but this year I think I'm going to put front shoes back on Bonnie since she seems a little more tenderfooted than she has in the past and is working more.

                                        I think it does their feet good (and my wallet!) and is worth trying in most cases. If after one cycle they're just not comfortable, though, I'll stick the shoes (with snowball pads) back on.
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