Caring for Your Horse this Winter – From the Ground Up

Autumn and winter can bring relief from summer heat but the cold and wet of winter and the reduced daylight hours bring their own challenges for horse owners and trainers. We cannot control the weather but with some planning and attention to details the colder months can still be safe and productive. 

Thankfully Australia does not generally have the extremes of winter such as Europe and northern America but even in our temperate areas problems can be encountered if preparations are not carried out diligently.

What happens to horses in the cold?

Horses have many mechanisms to help them handle the cold and wet however problems can appear when we ask them to perform competitively while it is cold. Decreases in muscle temperature can have detrimental effects on performance as cold muscles do not cycle as quickly and the nerves supplying instructions to muscles do not fire as quickly. Cold muscles are biomechanically stiffer than warm ones with the result that movements are restricted. As well cold affects the way groups of muscle react or work together which changes the way exercising horses move. This lack of coordination can decrease overall performance and also decrease the resilience of the leg structures thus making it imperative to extend warming up periods before exercising in cold conditions. It is also more important to make sure that major leg structures, i.e. ligaments and tendons, are in perfect condition to withstand the extra stresses applied by exercising cold muscles.




Softness and Cracks

With the wetter weather during winter and frequent morning dews, your horse’s hooves can absorb up to 15% more water and thus become softer than normal.  If hoof wall strength is compromised the horse’s ultimate movement is affected.  Weakness around any area of structural support particularly concerning the hooves (which are the main pressure absorbers of the body) will result in a reduced performance level.

It is important to condition the hoof on the inside (via nutrition) and on the outside via dressings that are absorbed to benefit the overall structure.  Use a dressing formulated to penetrate the hoof wall and provide nourishment to the inner hoof wall ensuring that strength is maintained.  The hoof needs to be flexible in order to be effective in absorbing pressure and protecting the legs.

A quality dressing containing a large number of natural ingredients such as fish oil, wheat germ oil, Venice turpentine, phenol, iodine, neatsfoot oil, linseed oil and tar should be applied to the hoof for maximum protection.  Neatsfoot oil is absorbed through the outer hoof wall and provides nourishment to the outside layer. Phenol and tar have antibacterial properties and prevent moisture from being absorbed into the hoof, allowing the hoof to maintain its strength throughout wet periods.


Thrush, Stone Bruises and Seedy Toe

A quality dressing can be useful in treating thrush on the feet, for protection after shoeing and should be applied when stone bruises are cut out.

Seedy toe is a bacterial and yeast infection. Hoof dressings containing tar acids, phenol and iodine have been shown to have an anti-bacterial effect useful in stopping current and preventing further infections.



Solution: Use HoofPRIME

Use of HoofPRIME on a regular basis will solve most common hoof problems by:

  • Nourishing and protecting the hoof wall, thus promoting strength & flexibility to maintain a healthy hoof.
  • The effective anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties will help prevent and treat infections on cracked hooves.