Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Mud Glorious Mud?

Rain…rain…and a bit more rain! Personally, I can live with getting a bit wet but what I really hate is the mud. It’s pretty much an occupational hazard with horses and they appear to take great joy in rolling in it. However, in many equestrian’s eyes, the arrival of mud means only one thing…the onset of mud fever. What is mud fever? Mud fever can be caused by a number of bacteria that lie in wait in the soil. Once the soil gets wet, the spores are activated and pounce on any weakness in your horse’s skin. Some forms of mud fever can be contagious and shared equipment such as boots, wraps and grooming equipment can carry the mud fever disease. However, good hygiene should prevent cross-contamination. It can actually affect the whole body if it gets out of hand and isn’t treated. When it occurs along the backs of horses that are kept outside without rugs, it’s known as rain scald or rain rash. Happily, most forms of mud fever won’t infect healthy skin but if your horse spends time in wet and muddy conditions, his skin softens and chaps. As the skin softens, it’s more easily scratched or damaged and yes, you’ve guessed it, the bacterium finds its way in and sets off the mud fever! What does it look like? Signs of mud fever are seen at the back of the heels and pasterns, although this can extend to the fetlock and up the lower limb.  Signs can vary from a few small dry scabs through to multiple painful discharging lesions with swollen weeping areas.  Often, there are matted areas of hair and scabs, which when picked off leave ulcerated, moist lesions.  The inflammation caused by mud fever can on occasion result in lameness. It can be very uncomfortable and painful for your horse, so if you see it, deal with it straight away. Can mud fever be prevented? Prevention is by far better than cure when it comes to mud fever, as once your horse has had it, chances are it will come back again and again. Unfortunately we can’t do much about the weather but there are ways of letting your horse be a horse and minimising the risk of mud fever. Use specialist turnout boots to keep your horse’s legs as dry and mud-free as possible. Equilibrium Close Contact Chaps are designed just for that purpose, as are Shires Mud Socks and Freedom Stretch Turnout Boots. Use a barrier cream such as Equine America Fungatrol Cream, Lincoln Muddy Buddy Ointment or Nettex Muddy Marvel Barrier Cream. Apply this to vulnerable areas, particularly around the heels and lower pasterns. Check that your horse’s legs are clean and dry when you bring him in. Some people prefer to leave the mud and brush it off when it’s dry. If you do need to wash your horse’s legs off, it’s really important that they are dried off well. How to treat mud fever? Once your horse has mud fever, it can be very difficult and frustrating to get rid of and it can recur. There are many theories as to which treatments work best but overall it’s trial and error as to what treatment your horse responds best to. The most commonly known treatment involves the gentle removal of the scabs as it's been considered that the bacteria that causes mud fever live underneath the scabs and so effective treatment relies on removing the scabs to allow contact with topical treatment. Make sure these are disposed of and not just left in your stable bedding as these can remain infectious for almost 2 years! Then use diluted Hibiscrub or Lincoln Muddy Buddy Scrub to remove the scabs. Be careful though as some horses will be unhappy about this if they’re sore! Clean the area with warm water – not cold. Thoroughly dry the leg, then once dry, closely cut the hair around the affected area. Although feathers may in some cases help to stop your horse getting mud fever in the first place, once they have it you need clear access to treat the wound. Apply a mud fever treatment such as Lincoln Muddy Buddy Mud Kure Cream or Lincoln Muddy Buddy Mud Kure Powder to help kill the bacteria and heal the wound. Keep your horse’s legs clean and dry until the condition is fully cleared up, the skin has healed and the hair regrown. It’s then necessary to follow the advice given in ‘Can mud fever be prevented’. Remember, once your horse has had mud fever he could well be more susceptible to getting it again, so you need to remain extra vigilant and check his legs daily. What if treatment doesn’t work? Some types of bacterial infections might not respond to regular treatment and will prove difficult to get rid of. When this is the case, it’s best to call the vet. They will be able to take samples to test precisely what the cause of the mud fever is and administer antibiotics if necessary.

Comments (0) -

Comments are closed