Poll Recap: Winter Shoeing Solutions

Poll Recap: Winter Shoeing Solutions

The majority of the respondents said their horses will go without shoes this winter.

Photo: iStock

You’ve purchased and fitted your horse’s new winter blanket. You made a small investment in the footing for your horse’s paddocks and your arena so you both can safely enjoy time outside the barn this winter. You and your horse are both ready to conquer the cold this year. But what about his shoes? Will he continue to wear them throughout the colder months?

In last week’s online poll, we asked our readers if they pull their horse’s shoes during the winter. More than 900 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 949 respondents, 574 (61%) said their horses are barefoot year-round and 175 individuals (18%) pull their horses’ shoes during the winter. The remaining 200 respondents (21%) said their horses stay shod as usual. 

Additionally, more than 140 people commented on their horse’s winter hoof care regimen.

Several people commented that their horses wear shoes in the winter:

  • “I use shoes with studs and rubber sole. It works perfect in winter in Norway.”
  • “The show horses keep their shoes and everyone else goes barefoot.”
  • “I keep shoes on the ones I ride.”
  • “There’s no need to pull his shoes since our San Diego winters are mild.”
  • “In the icy north, his snow pads prevent snow 'balling' and provide extra traction.”
  • “Snow and ice make it difficult for a horse to get around in my area. Snow pads are a must.”
  • “Unfortunately my horse can't go barefoot! He has front shoes only, though.”
  • “There’s no traction on ice when barefoot. I add studs in winter. I live in the Northeast.”
  • “My horse tends to get better traction in the snow with shoes, and it helps his feet from chipping.”
  • “I use shoes with snow pads and corks.”
  • “Up in Maine, we use winter shoes with studs!”
  • “I ride during the winter and need traction from studs.”

A few people commented that their horses wear shoes year-round:

  • “My horse has front shoes only year-round. Texas ground does not warrant four shoes.”
  • “I keep shoes on year round to protect his soles.”
  • “My horse has shoes on 365 days per year, but in winter he has bubble pads and corks on shoes so we can ride.”
  • “My horse needs shoes all year. He wears bubble pads and cork shoes to ride all winter in Canada outdoors.”
  • “He wears shoes year-round. He's thin soled with an awful hoof wall, and I want to ride year-round”

Many respondents shared why their horses wear shoes:

  • “He's ridden year-round and has shoes on the fronts only (it's very rocky here).”
  • “My horse never wore hind shoes. He needs corrective shoes on the front due to a club foot.”
  • “My horse wears only specialty shoes when needed.”
  • “My horse has navicular issues. He needs pads year-round.”
  • “He has white line in the toe of his left front foot. He needs the shoe to support the hoof wall.”
  • “She has a vertical crack that requires shoeing year-round.”
  • “I have a very tender-footed Thoroughbred, so he's typically shod all year, sometimes with pads. I ride year round in Pacific Northwest.”
  • “Unfortunately she grows hooves unevenly, so I must keep all four hooves shod year-round.”
  • “She needs the shoes for support because of her arthritis and having foundered.”
  • “My horse has navicular disease in his left front, so he only wears shoes on front two feet year-round.”
  • “My horse has therapeutic shoes to help with lameness on his front. His back hooves remain barefoot.”
  • “I have two Thoroughbreds and their hooves do not hold up well without shoes.”
  • “I ride him indoors and his feet wear down unevenly on the sand if he's barefoot.”
  • “My horse has front foot problem and requires shoes in front.”
  • “My Thoroughbred is constantly sore without shoes.”

Some respondents explained why they pull their horses’ shoes in the winter:

  • “I can't ride during the winter, so it's not worth the headache of the snow balls stuck in their feet.”
  • “We don't do much in winter and it saves money to pull them.”
  • “I think it is a good time to rest the feet and shoes are slippery in the winter.”
  • “I ride mostly inside in the winter,  thus I don't need shoes.”
  • “I pull the horses’ shoes since we aren't riding outside and only in the indoor they really don't need them.”
  • “There's no ice in my fields ever, so winter shoes are not needed.”

Others said their horses go barefoot:

  • “My horse doesn't wear shoes ever, just front hoof boots for riding.”
  • “My horse is barefoot all year and I use boots when trail riding.”
  • “All three are barefoot and happy.”
  • “No shoes ever. Hooves are beautiful. They wear boots if necessary.”
  • “My horse has vastly improved his body, feet, and attitude since going barefoot for more than a year!”
  • “My barefoot boys have EasyBoots for rough riding terrain.”
  • “I went to boots and a natural foot.”
  • “I use barefoot all-natural hoof care. They do not wear shoes.”
  • “Our two stay barefoot year round.”
  • “All three have great hooves, so they're barefoot year-round.”
  • “My horses are barefoot all year, with boots for riding if needed, for a healthy hoof and horse.”
  • “All five stay barefoot year-round. Best thing for healthy hooves, and most shod horses can be barefoot.”
  • “My horse has excellent hooves and has never needed shoes.”
  • “My three horses have been barefoot for 10 years. I use Old Macs, Cavallo, or Easy Trail for riding. Happy horses!”
  • “My equines are barefoot trimmed and receive as natural care as possible. They're very healthy and happy!”
  • “My farrier loves my horse's feet. He's barefoot year-round.”
  • “George T. Mule has never worn shoes and the rest have been barefoot for years.”

And several respondents left general comments:

  • “My vet would love my OTTB to go barefoot, but he needs to grow a better foot first.”
  • “We never shoe our horses.”
  • “Snow balls up rock hard like a tennis ball under the shoe. I need a hammer to remove.”
  • “The last horse I had shoes on was 22 years and 12 horses ago. Four of mine are over 15 years old now.”
  • “I am blessed with Arabians and they have good feet that I trim myself.”
  • “Horses with healthy hooves are not meant to wear shoes. Ever seen a wild horse with shoes?”
  • “Horses weren't born with shoes no matter where they live. Horses should be shod only for medical reasons.”
  • “Shoes prevent the hoof from expanding and contracting with each step, causing poor circulation.”
  • “My horse does not need shoes.”
  • “I feel all hoof issues can be addressed with proper trimming and hoof boots when necessary.”
  • “We ride year round, including mounted patrol in a local southern California state park.”
  • “From experience, I've found that their feet are healthier without shoes.”
  • “Horses need bare feet all year! If more protection is needed, there are lots of boot options.”
  • “I've never had a  need to put shoes on horses. They likely wouldn't stay on well with clay dirt/mud.”
  • “I would only shoe my horse if this were necessary to keep her healthy.”

You can find additional information on winter hoof care for horses, winter traction devices, and how to keep your horse’s hooves healthy during the colder months at TheHorse.com. We also have several hoof health resources on our "hoof care" topic page. 

This week, we want to know: How do you keep your horse's winter blankets clean? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls!  

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

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