4 Common Winter Hoof Problems & How To Treat Them

The winter is one of the more challenging times of year to be a horse owner. Between the cold temperatures and icy conditions, it can be challenging to spend quality time with our four-legged friends. With decreased outdoor time and activity coupled with slow hoof growth during the winter months, you may be tempted to push much of your horse’s hoof care needs to the spring, but, the reality is that the winter is hard on your horse’s hooves. Cold, wet, ice, snow and hard ground all take a toll on your horse’s feet. If you’re already looking toward the warmer weather and more activity with your horse, you need to remain proactive during the winter. Here are some of the common hoof problems you may see with your horse’s feet during the winter months.

Hoof Bruises

If you live in an area that is prone to a deep freeze during the winter months, you need to take extra care of your horse’s feet to ensure that they are handling the frozen ground. Frozen ground can be as hard on your horse’s hooves as concrete, and each step can cause soreness and even bruising. Sore feet and bruises aren’t always noticeable – if your horse seems to be favoring a foot or even acting lame, check the sole for a dark spot possibly accompanied by a small crack. If you find that your horse has a bruise, speak to your veterinarian and farrier to discuss how to alleviate your horse’s pain best, then adequately shoe your horse for your winter activities.


For many, winter weather can mean alternating periods between wet and dry weather causing the hoof wall to expand and contract; this is often a recipe for bacteria to invade the capsule creating a painful abscess. Horses with weak, shelly hooves are most likely to develop abscesses in the winter. If you notice that your horse has gone lame, seemingly overnight, contact your veterinarian to pinpoint and drain the abscess. Be sure to also reach out to your farrier for follow up care.


A nasty, rotten odor that is found when picking up your horse’s hoof is probably the sign of a fungal infection called thrush. Thrush in horses erodes the tissues of the frog leaving a blackish ooze on the surface this infection thrives in areas where horses are confined to stalls or small paddocks. Winter brings both advantages and disadvantages to horses that suffer from this smelly infection.

A horse that is exposed to clean mud (mud that is virtually free of manure and urine) is less likely to develop thrush as opposed to a horse that is standing in urine all day. Also, sub-zero temperatures are not a friendly environment for fungus and bacteria. So, should your horse develop thrush from too much time standing on wet ground or in their stall, a change of location and colder temperatures can help with treatment.  Be sure to remove as much infected tissue as you can, kill the organism with any number of products designed for the job and alter the horses footing where possible to keep their feet dryer.

Insulin Resistance

Even with no grass in sight, a horse with Insulin Resistance can develop sore feet during the winter months. Less exercise, loss of fresh grass, fewer vitamins/magnesium, cold stress, cortisol increase, seasonal ACTH increase, and longer fasting periods between food intake all contribute. You may notice that after routine trimmings by the farrier it takes several days to recover soundness – this is an insulin problem, not a bad trim job. The sugars produced by grass drops drastically in the fall leaving many horse owners to let up on their horse’s IR treatments during the winter months. However, Insulin Resistance is a year-round problem, it does not go away.

Insulin Resistant horses are in a constant state of pre-existing pro-inflammation if an event like colic or getting kicked by another horse happens, they could easily get tipped into foot pain if they are not receiving year-round IR treatment. Programs like the Heiro Program are easy to incorporate into your routine and maintain all year.

Horse Heiro is the only horse Insulin Resistance problem supplement using top rated, highest quality natural herbs. Heiro is veterinarian-developed, 100% all natural supplement containing no fillers, no artificial colors, preservatives, melamine, pesticides or drugs. This is a great combination and concentrations of organicals to make horses more comfortable and help them get back on grass pasture.