Winter Barefoot Hoof Care


Hi! My name is Casie Bazay. I'm a mom, a freelance writer, and a certified equine acupressure practitioner.

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7 Responses

  1. There is no evidence to support that hoof growth slows down in the winter…in fact it may be the opposite. The abrasiveness of frozen ground and snow causes more wear. What i think you are seeing is the barefoot hooves are weight bearing with greater bar support and wearing more as nature intended.

    • Casie says:

      That’s what I’ve read and witnessed. It’s also documented in this study:
      It makes sense to me that circulation slows in cold weather, therefore slowing hoof growth as well.

      • Measuring wall growth is never an indicator of hoof growth, we should use sole thickness, development of the digital cushion and palmer angle of P3. Slower circulation in the hoof in cold weather is not proven (studies of winter laminitis) however I would agree there is higher blond pressure in the cold. Quote from the article you linked above “Further research needs to be conducted to determine the influence of season on hoof growth and travel patterns.” The point I was trying to make is the need to better understand the five basic hoof structures (heel, hoof wall, bar, sole and frog)…especially the weight bearing function of bars. Correcting the bars would make the barefoot hoof pictured above perform year round no matter the workload without being shod.

        • Casie says:

          I’m not saying the hoof doesn’t grow in the winter–just saying that wall growth slows and therefore often requires less trimming (since this is the main area we trim). My point in noting this is that we should still inspect the hooves regularly even if we go to a longer trimming cycle.

          The hoof pictured above is an example of thrush (deep crevice in central sulcus). This was actually a club foot on a horse I used to have.

          • OK…I get that the appearance of slower wall growth leads some to think that hooves grow slower in winter. I just needed to make my point…and I think your missing my point about the bars.

            Here’s an observation from my decades of trimming. When bars are at the correct height, growing in the correct direction for the confirmation, and the hoof is not fighting pathogen infection, the hoof walls will almost never need to be trimmed regardless of the season.

            As far as thrush…here’s a thought for you :

            I was stacking wood one day when it hit me like a ton of bricks. The logs were stuck together, some so tight I needed an ax to separate. Fungus was binding the logs together similar to the hoof’s lamina.

            I have found while fungus is evasive, especially to the frog, it can bind damaged hoof wall and bar tissue together in a fashion similar to lamina’s lamella. When we kill fungus in the lamina, I believe we weaken these secondary connections causing more hoof wall and bar flaring and in turn thinner soles. I have found that the horse will outgrow fungus in the lamina when the lifestyle and mechanical forces causing separation are corrected.

            Killing fungus in the lamina also opens pathways for anaerobic bacterial to flourish. Anaerobic destroys keratin and lamina tissue much faster than fungus. The best way I have found to control pathogen infections in the lamina is to ignore fungus and kill anaerobic bacteria by keeping it open to the air and removing it.

            Anaerobic bacterial can be deep into the hoof making it difficult to safely pare-out on a barefoot horse. Not exfoliating dirt, manure and dead tissue daily that is stuck onto the hoof can play a huge role in misdirecting the growth of the five basic hoof structures.

            For horses that need to be stalled, I recommend a cleaning method that penetrates deep into infected tissue without damaging healthy cells, an air powered cleaning gun that gets the hoof very clean with a once daily two minute application. Cleaning allows the hoof care provider to see how the hoof’s five basic structures are growing, usually without the need to exfoliate with a knife.

            With daily inspection and correction with the growth direction of the five basic hoof structures in mind, and pathogens under control, the hoof begins to quickly reverse many of the pathologies that have troubled domestic horse for centuries.

            Safety tip: Here is another observation I’ve made over the years…hoof boots can be more detrimental than metal shoes..and should never be used unsupervised.

  2. Jürgen Grande says:

    Concerning thrush.
    I’ve tried several regimens, but my favorites for treating actual thrush (bacteria and / or fungus), or to avoid it beforehand, is:
    * The sulcus (central frog groove) always has to be a wide gap, so if it’s only a narrow slot you have to cut it open carefully. The sulcus needs air supply.
    * One part tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia), diluted with twenty parts water, applicated by a spray flask (like you would use for plants), 2-3 times a week. The fluid reaches even into smallest nooks.

    My horse had no thrush at all since two and a half years.
    This is good especially in wet seasons, but also works pretty well all over the year.

    Bye, Jürgen

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