Ice balls in horse feet is an issue. It's the reason that I first started getting shoes pulled in the winter when I became a horse owner, and that in turn was partly why I started liking my horses barefoot all year round.
Because Kachina is completely barefoot, and because I live in the land of dry fluffy snow, I haven't had to deal with a major case of ice balls in years. Something about the weather in the last couple days must have been a perfect storm of factors though because when I went out to the barn yesterday and brought Kachina in, she was wobbling on a very serious set of ice balls.
|This one was the worst, both the hardest to remove and the pointiest|
I immediately took her into the indoor arena to groom so that she had a soft deep surface to stand on while I attacked the balls. I had to abandon my plans to ride and instead spent most of my time at the barn working to clear her feet. I have a hoof pick at the bottom of my grooming bag that is super solid unbendable steel. It's not go-to pick because I don't always like how unyielding and sharp it is, but I totally appreciated it's ability to pick, hammer and lever yesterday.
I eventually got all four feet mostly clear (and at least clear enough so Kachina could stand flat), but it was a serious battle. I may have been cheering out loud each time I got a piece to finally budge. Even once the chunks of ice were out of her feet, they were super solid and I couldn't break them.
|Some of the pieces I got out|
(normal hoof pick for size comparison, my solid pick is a weird size)
On the bright side, we had a very productive ground work lesson on having Kachina keep her feet up even when it's taking longer than it should (though I did give her frequent breaks). She wasn't impressed at first but we came to an understanding. A few more sessions like that should help her be more patient for the farrier. Also I did give Kachina a quick lunge and the ice balls don't seem to have caused any injury.
|Height of removed chucks with curry comb for size comparison|
I'm hoping that her feet stay clear, but I'm planning to check on her more often this week to make sure. Any suggestions for removing future ice balls? Since she's already barefoot, and I don't have access to a heated barn or warm water, my past tricks can't help me.