It is the weather that horse owners dread the most… torrential rain, mud and soaking wet conditions. While we can’t prevent it, we can help make it easier to deal with…
Wet conditions and mud are unavoidable when it comes to horses. Struggling through fields in wellington boots, wrapping up in waterproofs and constantly feeling like a drowned rat are all part and parcel of the great British winter. But not only is wet weather unpleasant to be outside in, it can also impact our horse’s skin health.
Mud brings with it a multitude of problems for our horse’s skin. Conditions such as mud fever are often connected with equines standing in muddy, wet environments and can vary from mild skin irritation to painful sores which can become infected, swell and cause lameness in severe cases.
Mud fever, and other mud induced skin issues, affect the horse when bacteria that lives in the soil becomes activated in wet weather and enters the body through small cuts and scrapes – which could be the result of a nick or injury – or could simply be caused by the abrasive action of wind and rain softening the skin.
These skin problems can manifest in a range of ways, from scurfy skin to open sores and unfortunately there is only one real way to manage it – and that is by avoiding the mud. Easier said than done – we know!
Our top tips for managing the mud this winter…
- Keep the limbs as clean and dry as possible – particularly any areas where scabs or lesions have already occurred.
- Clipping around the sore areas carefully can help to keep the hair dry. Using a medicated spray or cream which contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties may also be beneficial.
- If you suspect infection then always contact your vet straight away. You may need to get antibiotics either as a cream or administered in feed.
- Consider investing in protective wraps for use in the field when your horse is turned out to minimise the amount of contact your horse has with mud.
- Try and rotate fields and consider laying hardcore in gateways to avoid poached, muddy areas that your horse might be tempted to stand in.
- If feeding hay, place it in different positions around the field to discourage your horse from standing in just one area consistently.
- If you wash your horse’s legs then always remember to dry them thoroughly – particularly if your horse has long feathers.
- Consider feeding a balancer, vitamin and mineral supplement, or specific skin supplement to help support immunity and your horse’s ability to maintain healthy skin from the inside out.
- Some horse owners find that applying a barrier cream can help create a protective seal to prevent mud from sticking to your horse’s skin. Always choose a cream that has been specifically designed for horses.
The winter can be stressful, but if you follow some of our handy tips then mud needn’t be the bane of your life this season.