Are Caulks(“Corks”) Best For Winter Horse Riding? Alternative Winter Horse Shoe For Traction And Protection

Most people that ride a lot during the winter feel that caulks are best. From my own experience, I have to agree. In fact, it need not be because you ride a lot during the winter, even someone that goes for a ride occasionally could just as well experience a fall with their horse because of the icy conditions that often appears out of no where. One client I use to do was a riding instructor that taught outside and had to cancel for the winter. Her husband, like many husbands that don’t care about horses as do their wives, was dead against spending the money to shoe the lesson horses, even though it meant his wife could teach most of the winter. Their land was very hilly and without shoes caulks and pads, riding was too dangerous. They hadn’t tried it and weren’t convinced it would even work. With much assurance on my part, She tried the winter shoeing that I suggested and was estatic about how well it worked and her husband enjoyed the extra income she was able to generate all winter. Usually because of the difficulty of drilling and carrying a complete set of shoes for caulks, another style of shoe is recommended. Manufactured heels or heels forged by the blacksmith will give some traction but not like caulks, and they also wear down easily, but are a lot safer than a flat shoe or bare foot.

Another method that farriers use, is to coat the heels of a shoe with “borium”. This gives as much traction as caulks but can cause quite an injury if the horse should happen to step on himself. I recall an incident in which a mare tore practically all the flesh from her hind pastern with a borium heeled shoe. This happened backing off a trailer. However, I have spoken with several good blacksmiths who use this system without any problems. The owner should know whether or not their horse tends to be accident prone or moves in a clean safe manner, ensuring this borium coating would be safe to try.

One other point that is very important in winter shoeing and that is the use of “snow pads”. Without pads, shoes and caulks are basically useless because the balling up of the snow raises the shoes and caulks off the ground to the point they do nothing. Pads come in two forms, one is a complete covering of the bottom of the hoof, and the other is a rim with a tube that pops the snowball out. This type also lets the hoof breath and for that reason is preferred by the more selective owner. Both do a necessary and excellent job of preventing balling up.

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