Hello Reader. Nice to see you again - here in 2010 . Jan 31, 2010
So the question is "Do you shoe differently during the winter" and my answer is "Yes - i do" for the following reasons. This will be a rather easy discussion.
1. Normally when shoeing i leave plenty of heel length to the shoe for heel support. By that i mean many horse's have had their toes left too long out in front ( what i call bozo feet ) and with that you're going to find some sheering of the heels ( the heel of the hoof is no longer to the rear of the foot but rather has been shoved forward toward the toe , in a severe case the horse can actually be rocking back on it's feet even just while standing - so something needs to be done to stop the foot from rocking back , i usually do this by lengthening the shoe toward the rear.
There is an inherent problem with lengthening the heels of the shoe - a necessary evil if you will. With the lengthening of shoe at the heel there comes the increased chance the rear foot will reach forward and hook that longer back part of the shoe and pull that shoe right off. Obviously this is a bigger risk on the front feet as there's no feet behind the back feet to hook the long shoe. Not only can a rear foot come forward to yank a shoe off but during the winter it's obviously going to be easier for the horse to be sliging around on it's feet and actually even one of the front feet can easily slide into the opposite foot and the same problem - hooking that opposite longer heel area of shoe and pulling shoes off becomes a problem.
To back up for a minute , i've mentioned in the past that sheered heels allow the heel of the foot to sink into the ground stretching the deep flexor tendon which can also crank the point of the coffin bone downward ( rotation of coffin bone ) providing the heel support with the longer shoe prevents those two risks of lameness , which is the reason for the longer shoe in the first place.
Being winter and wet and slippery just increases the chance of pulling shoes and we're going to want to help prevent that. It's a simple solution.
During winter months if i have a horse that becomes a chronic shoe puller then for starters i'll just start to shorten the shoe back up in the heel area. If the horse pulls two shoes on me during winter that's when i'll start the shortening process. I don't like having to come back to replace shoes any more than the owner of the horse likes having to call me to do so.
Having horse's pull shoes in winter isn't what i would call a regular occurance which should tell you leaving the shoes longer in the heel really isn't so risky in the first place. I shoe almost all the horse's with longer heels and i still rarely have horse's pulling shoes anyway. So feel free to give your horse heel support - they love it. Here's one of the rules of thumb that i support - "when it comes to leaving the heel of the shoe longer do not let the shoe be so long as to surpass the bulbs of the foot - that's as far as you want to go. There are occasions to extend shoes longer than that ( For lameness treatment or some specific issue ) but not as a general shoeing practice.
So you'll go temporarily to a shorter heel during winter only if the horse is starting to have a problem keeping shoes on. That's it ! Simple.
There is an exception to going back to the shorter shoe and that is - if the horse is severely sheered and at strong risk of lameness ( which you really have a hard time being sure about in sheered heel cases ) then even during winter i'll keep the heels of the shoe long and try to survive winter that way / Perhaps some stall time during the winter wet months in order to keep the shoe on - if i'm really worried about it and there's no stall available i'll duct tape around the foot to help the foot be protected from the other feet yanking the shoe off. That's about it ! Basic stuff.
I told you this would be an easy discussion when we started right (-:
When things start drying up in spring everything will be back on track. I'll revisit sheered heels thoroughly in a future discussion until then as usual Happy and Safe riding and always remember to www.Care4Horses.com
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take care .
John "TheFootDoctor" Silveira