Multiple Benefits To Removing Shoes Over Winter

There are multiple benefits to allowing horses to transition to barefoot over the winter months, hoof care specialist Alicia Harlov tells Dr. Chris White in a conversation recorded at thehorse.com.

For performance horses who regularly wear shoes, removing those shoes for the winter can be a safety measure safer, preventing slippery balls of ice from forming in their hooves. It can also allow for a more natural hoof function that helps get ahead of any issues the horse might have.

“Pulling shoes over the winter is also a great way to get ahead of nagging pathologies (diseases or conditions) that we often chase throughout the rest of the year,” Harlov told The Horse. “Allowing the feet time to rest out of shoes can result in benefits to the caudal hoof, relaxing contracted heels, growing healthier frogs, and strengthening the structures in the back half of the foot especially.”

Making the transition to barefoot takes time, Harlov cautioned. She recommends removing the hind shoes first, and allowing the horse time to get comfortable before returning to full work.

“Some horses need an adjustment in their workload at first as their feet strengthen, while others can immediately go back to their previous workload seemingly unaffected,” Harlov continued. “A good rule of thumb is for every year shod, expect one month of transition time before the horse is fully comfortable. A little bit of preparation and observation can go a long way in a successful barefoot transition.”

Read more at The Horse.

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