Winter can be a downer for horse owners. There are frozen water buckets to deal with, snow and ice building up around the barn, and those freezing temperatures don't make for very pleasant rides.
But winter also brings snow, and there's something that's just magical about a beautiful horse in the snow. These horses and riders, well, they look amazing in the winter wonderland scenes. And is there anything better than a bareback ride on a snowy morning? It's the perfect way to enjoy a season that often restricts the number of hours that we can spend in the saddle.
While it's romantic and beautiful to see horses in the snow, according to Pro Equine Grooms, snow can pose any number of hazards to horses. Horses can slip and strain tendons and ligaments in snow and ice, and deep snow is strenuous for horses to move in. Snow also hides things, and a horse may trip or fall on an unseen object that has been covered by snow. Additionally, snow often balls up in a horse's hooves, creating an uneven surface that they try to walk on. In short, snow can be a pain for horses.
But there are some things you can do to make wintertime more tolerable and safer for your horse. First, consider pulling your horse's shoes for winter. Horses have more traction with their natural hooves than they do when they're wearing shoes. If your horse needs to keep his shoes on, then ask your farrier to put snow shoes with studs on your horse. You can also have your farrier insert a special snow pad designed to pop the snow out of your horse's hooves as he walks.
Keep a close eye out for ice in your horse's paddock, and sand the ice if you do see it to give your horse extra traction. If your horse is easily excited and the conditions outside are hazardous, think about turning your horse out in an indoor arena until outside conditions improve.