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I am fairly new to horse ownership. In fact this is my first winter owning a horse. Right now where we live (Alberta, Canada) we have tons of snow! My horse Qwiggly has tons of snow packed in his hooves. There is so much snow that his hooves do not fully touch the ground..it is more so the snow! I tried picking out the snow but it is so solid that I could not get it out! Any suggestions?

Thanks!
 

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stand them in a stall or out of the snow for awhile & hope it melts =]

you can also get your farrier to put snow pads on his feet if he has shoes, those will help a lot !
 

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Same thing happened to me the other day. This will be my first winter owning a horse too! The snow in my horse's hooves turned to ice, though. I had to put him on the cross ties and jab at the ice with a hoof pick!
 

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Id use warm water, you can place his hovoes in a bucket of warm water(one at a time) and every few seconds or so when the water cools take it out and try to pull the ice chunk out, then if it does not come out just add more warm water and try again in a few seconds.

Or, If he will tolerate it
try a hair dryer...

You want to get the ice out as soon as possible though or he could trip and hurt himself not to mention how uncomfortable it mush be to have that stuck in there.
Good luck, let us know how it goes.
 

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After you get it out, spray some PAM on the bottom of his hooves. It helps keep the snow from sticking and ice packs from forming.
 

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^^ yup yup forgot to add that, or you can also smear a good layer of vegetable shortening, it is messy but lasts a little longer than pam, either way you will have to reapply every few hours if you leave him turned out.

Maybe you could shovel the snow from an area of his paddock that way he has a place to stand that is snow free...
 

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I would have his shoes pulled if theres that much snow. You can still ride him and without the shoes you don't generally have to worry about the snow balling up. I think it's also good for them to go barefoot for a while.
 

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Same thing happened to me the other day. This will be my first winter owning a horse too! The snow in my horse's hooves turned to ice, though. I had to put him on the cross ties and jab at the ice with a hoof pick!
Sorry to double post. This is what I did last winter. I didn't have a chance to get my farrier out before we got our snow in, and there's no way my farrier's vehicle could have made it into the barn's driveway, lol. So my poor horse was stuck with shoes while it snowed, and I would sit there and poke and pry at the ice every night before stalling her, it was exhausting and took about 5 minutes a hoof.

And not to hijack, but I have a quick question, how common is it for barefoot horses to get snowballs in their hooves? I didn't want what happened last year to happen this year so I pulled her shoes like, a month ago, lol. Will I not have to worry about snowballs now that she's barefoot?
 

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Its much much less common in bare feet, the hoof mechanism works enough to keep "flexing" the snow out. And the snow does no0t have as deep an area to pack into.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for the great suggestions! Actually Qwiggly does not have any shoes on .. his hooves are bare! I will try the warm water and Pam!
 

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Maybe he needs a trim?
 

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My mare is the same way... and she's barefoot. I've spent about 30 mins each day trying to get the ice out of her hooves.

I'm finding I have to put her in her stall for 15-30 mins prior to grooming. But even then, the ice is still packed in. I just chip away at the ice until it comes out. I might try the hairdryer soon though, because this ice issue sure does hurt the back. :S
 

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Nice topic.
Thanks to the OP.
I am not a new to horse ownership, but have never had horses in this type of climate.
My horses are both bare right now.
We just had a few feet of snow but the bunk part is the daily highs are in the teens...nights in the negatives.
I have not tried the Pam, but have heard of it working well
So far on the days I was at the barn the ice and snow seemed to come out pretty easy with a hoof pick and then a swipe or so with the bristle end.

HP
 

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I've never had an issue with snow pack in bare hooves. I would question the trim. Also, does he have lots of room for turn out? I could see this happening maybe if a horse basically stands around the whole day just shifting from foot to foot to eat a bit here or there, but with good movement on a good trim without shoes, the snow should not be packing. In my barn I always see little hoofprint fossils of snow from the pack that falls out of their hooves.

Of course, there are times when Mother Nature puts a wrench in anything just to keep us on our toes. So if your snow is very moist and then it's very cold and turns it into ice that could be just a hiccough moment and won't come back.
 

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Erm, I think it depends on the climate. The OP said she lives in Alberta, which isn't all that warmer then here in Manitoba. Our girls are trimmed as regular as it gets, Shay-la is touching them up every 3-4 weeks and we still endure snowballs. I have no idea why, something about the way they snow and ice packs onto each other, maybe if I understood more about weather and the consistancy of snow I would have an answer, but it's definately a huge issue up here in Canada for shod AND barefoot horses, properly trimmed.

Most people trim their hooves to be very concave, regardless of shod or barefoot, so I would attribute that to being a big part of the problem. Shay-la is trying some "natural trimming" on her old retired mare to see how it goes - it promotes leaving the frog to harden and callous as they do in the wild, and supporting the weight of the horse along with the hoof wall instead of JUST the hoof wall. I can imagine we'll see a reduction if not complete loss in the snowballing.

Anyway, all the tips were good - you HAVE to get the snow out. It can be tricky, but you can almost always find an opening near the heel to get the hoofpick under and get that first chunk out to start you on your way. PAM is okay, but it's so expensive for how little it lasts it's almost completely worthless. It kept my horses hooves snow free for maybe an hour and then right back to the same problem, so what was the point? I'd be more inclined to think shortening would work better.

And the snowballs are definately a bigger problem in this transitional period of warmish snowfall - once it hits the bitter -30 and -40 temps, it doesn't much happen anymore, the snow loses it's consistancy to stick together.
 

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Well, it depends on the climate to the degree that there has to be snow, but that's about it. Not sure what you meant by that??? Perhaps something more about humidity, lack of humidity, changing temps??? Snow in Ontario tends to be more moist than snow in Alberta generally, but I still haven't seen snowpack issues here. We used to get it really bad on the bottom of our skiboots, but never on the horses.

But back to the solution, MM -- you are right. She does need to get the snow out. I'm not too sure about the warm water soak though. Water + freezing temps is not a good thing. Plus if you add water to an existing snow ball you can create an ice ball that is even harder to deal with. I like the hair dryer idea, just try to keep the heat away from the back of the pastern. Another thing that might work is to tap on the bottom of the snowpack with a hammer to loosen it. That would be my first try if a hoof pick isn't working.
 

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You just have to chip it away as often as you can...unfortunately in some climates it's just a part of horse ownership...unpleasant for both horse and owner for sure, but necessary as well.

Shortening does work way better than Pam...
 
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