Equus.com - Full Article
The rock-hard accumulations of ice and snow that can get packed into a horse’s feet can cause lameness and injury. Here’s how to keep hoof ice balls from forming.
MELINDA FRECKLETON, DVM, WITH CHRISTINE BARAKAT
JAN 4, 2019
One winter hazard that riders in northern climes know well is ice balls. When snow and ice get packed under a horse’s hoof, it warms up slightly against the sole, then freezes readily against the cold metal of the shoe. The ice can quickly build up until the horse is walking on a hard, solid mass of frozen material, called “ice balls” or “snowballs.” The wetter and more dense the snow, the more likely it is that snowballs will occur. “Slushier” ice will fall away from the foot more readily, and light, dry snow won’t pack well, but wet or icy snow can easily get compacted into a tight, hard block.
Walking on the uneven mass even for a short time can cause a number of problems from tripping and sliding to strains or sprains of the muscles, tendons and joints. Persistent snowballs can lead to bruises and hoof cracks. Horses do OK much of the
time when there is snow all around, but once on a firm surface, many will teeter as if they are on high-heeled shoes.
Removing large masses of ice from under your horse’s feet can be difficult, and by the time you discover them, the damage may already be underway. It’s better to take measures to prevent them from forming:...
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