Keeping horses in winter can be quite a challenge. Cold, ice, snow, little daylight - in this article we want to take a closer look at how you can support your horse (and especially its hooves) in the best possible way in these difficult conditions.
Hoof growth and feeding in winter
You may have noticed that horses' hooves grow less quickly in winter than in other seasons. There are several reasons for this: due to the reduced daylight hours, the hormone balance changes and the horse switches to "energy-saving mode". This means that the body signals the horse to put its energy into less movement, but instead, e.g. B. to maintain body heat. Due to the reduced movement, however, blood circulation is reduced and the hoof is less well supplied with nutrients. There are also theories that the capillaries in the horse's leg contract to minimize temperature loss - but this also reduces blood flow.
The daylight-related hormonal change also causes a reduced formation of the hormone prolactin, which in turn influences the horn growth rate, among other things.
All of these factors combine to make your horse's hooves grow more slowly in winter. However, that does not mean that your blacksmith or farrier should come less often in the winter months, on the contrary: with low hoof growth it is all the more important that the material available is healthy, nothing pinches and the hoof is kept in balance. Regular tillage is therefore just as important as during the warmer months.
You can give your horse the best possible support with regard to hoof growth by providing plenty of exercise and adjusting the feeding. On the one hand, this includes a more intensive supply of fat-soluble vitamins, which the horse would naturally consume through grass for the rest of the year. On the other hand, the increased energy demand in winter must be covered. For this purpose, the energy should be provided in the form of raw fiber - in the simplest case, the hay ration can simply be increased. Alternatively, beet pulp is also a good additional feed in winter, as it also has a lot of digestible raw fiber and is also a very good source of lysine. Lysine is an essential amino acid and is important for horn growth and the formation of (hoof) cartilage.
Prepare hoof protection for winter
Due to the reduced hoof growth, your horse may need additional hoof protection in winter. In particular, if your horse lives in an open stable and there is often frozen ground there, you should be careful: Sole corium inflammation can quickly occur here. Horses with thin soles or flat arches are particularly at risk. For these candidates, it often makes sense to proactively apply a bonded hoof protector in the winter (before problems arise).
Attach anti-skid device
Permanent hoof protection should be made "winter fit" in the cold season. On the one hand, this includes the attachment of studs to prevent unwanted slipping in wintry ground conditions. For example, you can easily screw spikes into our Perma XT adhesive fitting.
In areas with frequent snowfall, you should also make sure that your hoof protection does not excessively encourage clotting. Depending on the consistency of the snow, bare feet can also form clumps, but they usually fall out again after a few steps.A plastic protection or metal iron, on the other hand, has comparatively “sharp” edges in which chunks of snow get stuck more stubbornly
You can remedy this by closing these edges. This can happen, for example, with a movable “snow lip” (like the Goodsmith base plates already have) or with a pad between the hoof sole and the hoof protection. Such a cushion is a special silicone or plastic mass that does not harden completely but remains flexible to a certain extent. If your horse has a sensitive sole, you also have protection against frozen ground.Author: Nathalie Kurz www.mein-leben-ist-ein-ponyhof.at