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Riding in snow - horse's hooves?

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  • Riding in snow - horse's hooves?

    I want to try my brand new custom saddle out today - of course it has snowed in Georgia and I am not used to riding in the snow. Mare is barefoot. Is there anything special I should use on her hooves to keep the snow from balling up in her hooves?

    Ignorant of the snow southerner here so have no clue if there is anything I can do or should do?

    I read about crisco..should I use that on the bottom of her hooves. It's been beautiful this morning and I am out to feed/hay again and then want to saddle up and ride down the roadside as there aren't any cars on my road today..yippee the road is iced over so no fear of dangerous drivers who get too close to me on the side of the road! Of course mare is going to be a handful, haven't been able to ride much because of the constant rain here.


  • #2
    I think snowballs are more of an issue when the horse has shoes - or at least my pony never got them until he had to start wearing front shoes and then we had to make sure to get snowpads starting in November!

    I've heard the Crisco and Vaseline tricks are effective when smeared over the bottom of the hooves - I'm not sure if it wears off over time, or if you have to try to wipe it off afterward to avoid shavings and hay sticking to it when you're done outside!

    Have fun!


    • Original Poster

      I'll try the crisco trick - she seems ok out in the field running around and snorting - lol..so maybe she will be fine. This is good practice for her so when I take her to Ohio this year she will be somewhat familiar with the white stuff!



      • #4
        If she is trimmed properly and has concavity to her soles, the flexing of her hoof will automatically pop "snow patties" out as she goes along. The only time snow and mud will cake or ball up is when the hoof doesn't flex, as God intended it to do. That's why shod horses get stuff packed into their hooves; there's no way for it to come out.

        Think of an ice cube tray. The old fashioned metal ones were a PITA. The newer plastic or silicone ones were easy to remove the cubes, since they would flex and pop them right out.

        Same with a proper trim. If they don't self-clean, then find someone who knows how to trim the hooves so they flex and expand when loaded. Not only is it better in snow and mud, but better over all for the health of the horse. Hoof mechanism is integral to proper function.

        We've had snow around the Metro St. Louis area for several weeks now, and all my guys are turned out 24/7. I see snow patties laying all over, and their hooves are never "iced up."

        Barbara www.customstockties.com
        Tulsa-QH; Schnickelfritz-Holsteiner; Atikus-Danish Warmblood; Buddy-QH/TB; Winston-Shire; Thomas-Percheron/TB; Mac-Belgian Draft, gone but never forgotten


        • #5
          You should have minimal to no issues with snowballs on your barefoot horse! Have fun riding in the snow! Up here in SC, the snow is pretty dry and powdery; I was able to work even my shod mare with very little issue. She formed a couple of snowballs, but kicked them out on her own. The barefoot mare had no problems.

          As a just-in-case, take a can of Pam cooking spray to the barn with you. If your horse starts to form snowballs, a spray on the sole helps prevent this fairly well. I used to do this on shod horses when I lived in climes that had real winters. This works better than Crisco or Vaseline, which get a little clumpy and gooey in cold temps.
          Equinox Equine Massage

          In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
          -Albert Camus


          • #6
            Barefoot in the snow should be just fine. We never bother with crisco or anything like that.
            I do worry about you riding down the road when they are iced over though. Barefoot gives you good traction but for a horse balancing a rider on ice... even our veteran ice-walkers here take baby steps on ice and occasionally do a little skating. I won't ride on ice. I do hope you are staying on the shoulder IN the snow.
            And ENJOY!!!! Riding in snow is actually lots of fun!


            • #7
              In the snow I agree with everyone who says that a barefoot horse will be fine... the snow pops right out of my horse's feet. I don't generally even have to pick out his hooves much because everything tends to come out on its own.

              Agree to watch out for ice though... my barefoot horse does slide easily!
              "Remain relentlessly cheerful."

              Graphite/Pastel Portraits


              • #8
                The biggest thing you have to worry about (especially if you had rain and it froze before it started to snow) is ice under the snow where the rainwater collected and froze. If you have a foot or so of snow, it's not that big a deal -- but only a few inches of snow on top of ice can make for some rather adventurous slipping and sliding.

                The only time we get trouble with snowballs in unshod hooves (and we get a lot of several different kinds of snow) is when it's very cold and there's an inch or two of dry snow. This slowly compacts into a hard inverted cone in the hoof and the the warmth of the hoof is not enough to thaw it loose. If it's that cold, you probably aren't going to be riding -- at least not down in Georga.

                When it's not so cold, warmth of the foot is more than enough to let the the snowballs pull themselves loose under their own weight before they get big enough be a bother.
                Last edited by greysandbays; Feb. 13, 2010, 11:01 AM. Reason: brain scrambled


                • Original Poster

                  Thanks everyone - no I am not riding in the road, but on the shoulder of the road which is fairly wide. We have some really clueless people who drive down my road and they do stupid things like blow car horns, some swerve over to the edge, others just plain stop and ask if they can "pet" the horsie (which I don't mind if there is no other traffic, but most days it is asking for horsie to get upset as other cars swerve and dart past the stopped car)..

                  so to be able to ride because the road is iced over is wonderful..no cars to worry about!

                  Gone now to ride, this will be a new experience for us both, I don't think I've ridden in the snow in over 30 years! Never get enough and it never lasts long enough.


                  • #10
                    Snowballs in Georgia and here in Canada, my Daffodils are blooming and I am starting to harvest cabbage and chard from my grden ( it overwinters some years)

                    But for snow days, I do clean the hooves well and spray with PAM cooking oil. WD40 works in a pinch too.
                    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF