We got just enough snow overnight to gum up the ice--YAY!! we have had a lot of rain this week with temps just about at freezing it was falling on top of ice and snow so it just made more ice. As I was dealing with horses on icy ground I decided to do a search on line to see what is out there for advice.
There is very little information that is helpful. I found this: Iron Shoes on Ice which advocates for not leading or being close to horses that are navigating ice. It also mentions studs on the shoes-- another good idea.
I found a couple of videos that had helpful information about how to keep you safe on ice without the horse. Having to do with core fitness and balance, also treads that give one the least amount of contact with the ice as possible and it shows examples.
While I was at it enjoyed this video from Sweden it shows racing on snow / ice and shows you the special shoes those races wear.
If your horse is shod or barefoot snow packed hard into the hoof can create balls for the horse to have to walk on --a very round surface instead of the flat hoof. This is most dangerous. Special pads can be put on the hoof under the shoes to keep this from happening. Regular trimming of the barefoot will keep this from happening as well. Here is a nice piece with some additional information.
I use a salt sand mixture that we can get for free from our Town Maintenance Folks mostly. When I haven't had that available I have used mulch hay or shavings. But it's important to remember that you need water to adhere the material to the ice or you have a situation where the horse thinks it might be stable footing until he starts skating. I have not had a problem with horse’s feet getting overly dry from the salt sand mix. We don't have conditions where the ice is an issue for extended periods either, so the salt washes away. I do not remove snow from paddocks except where I must to get in and out of the gates to the sheds so there are always plenty of places to be away from ice even when conditions are producing icy walk ways. I have had occasions where horses have needed to traverse icy footing to get from or to the barn. we have all heard horror stories of the person who was laid up healing form hideous breaks all winter and through the spring because their horse fell on them while being led on ice. I cannot stress this enough: DON'T DO IT. The horses I care for are trained to come in and go out on their own quietly or they don't go until the footing has been stabilized. I do not lead horses on ice. I have seen horses walk and trot on ice just fine when unencumbered by people, and left to negotiate on their own. I have seen them fall on ice when they are trying to follow a person attentively the way they have been taught--the safest way when the footing is stable, but add ice and it's a bad idea. I have my fencing set up to create wide avenues that direct the horses travel to and from the barn and we practice some times.
Things to think about: Your horse’s routine for one thing and connection to the herd. This story I heard recently; You are at a boarding facility and the horses are stuck inside for days because of ice when they are used to all day turn out. You really need to get yours out for some exercise. She has always been a quiet horse so you take her to the arena or paddock even though there is ice to deal with. You make it there ok but once you let her loose she is not happy and running around not paying a lot of attention to the footing. She is clearly not safe and for some reason that you can't quite understand she seems to want to go back in. You risk your own safety to get her back in and that is not a happy feeling. My advice is : don't take one horse out while the others are all still in especially when they are all in the habit of being turned out at the same time ( even if turn out is into different paddocks or fields). Remember: Most Horses are very much creatures of habit and are constantly aware and concerned about each member of the herd and being part of it.