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.
I spray white lithium grease on their feet when there is wet snow on the ground, seems to help some, only caveat is you have to make sure the feet are dry before spraying. Good luck!ReplyDelete
Getting her feet totally dry in the snow would be tough to manage. Also I'm not sure how much preventative stuff I want to do since it is such a rare occurrence and I don't know what exact conditions brought it on this time (so I would have to do it all winter)Delete
I keep a small hammer with my grooming stuff in the winter. A couple of good bashes usually help loosen them up. I've also used cooking spray with varying degrees of success. I basically spray their feet as I turn them out and it helps minimize snow buildup for awhile.ReplyDelete
I read the hammer idea elsewhere too, I think I'll have to get one to keep at the barn. Thanks for the suggestion!Delete
Could you bring some warm water from home?ReplyDelete
I could, but at -20 it wouldn't stay warm very long. Also using water in an unheated barn sounds like a recipe for icy floors, icy fingers, and icy forelegs. Plus, I don't know when I might encounter an ice ball so I'd have to either bring warm water every time or drive back home if she did have ice ballsDelete
If you have a place to plug it in, the little electric kettles are really quick and relatively inexpensive to buy. That could help solve your hot water problems. I don't have anything useful to add about the balls. I don't have any experience with them.ReplyDelete
That's actually a great idea, I could just keep it in the tack room and only pull it out if I need it, thanks!Delete
I am surprised that she had that much barefoot! I always worry about them and the effect on their joints. Since both my horses are shod I opted for the snow pads under the shoes. Those work very well if you horse has shoes on.ReplyDelete
I know right! I've never seen them this bad on a barefoot horse!Delete