Mud, mud, mud, and more mud!!!
I have learned first hand that mud is not a problem isolated to one area. Many people have to deal with springtime mud. And here in Minnesota it is no different. We really needed the extra moisture so that our grass can actually grow, but mother nature decided instead of giving it to us over the course of winter, she would just snow a little (a LOT) extra in the spring instead. We were in drought conditions going into spring, and now we are not. That is a lot of moisture.
Anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about care of the horse when it is muddy out. Some things can be overlooked if you cut corners. If you have any additional advice to share, feel free to leave a comment! :)
Small injuries can be hidden under a thick layer of dried mud. I am not suggesting you meticulously scrape every speck of mud off, but just use a brush to get the worst of it off, and run your hand down the horse's leg. In most cases he will show you is there is an injury.
As most horse-owners know, injuries usually have heat and swelling. Mud can disguise this, and make it harder to notice. If your horse is at risk for injury in the pasture, or even just after a nice hard workout, make sure you are keeping a close eye on it.
If your horse is kept outside, he will likely lose a good portion of tail during this time of year. I usually put mine up- Start with a clean, dry, conditioned tail- then get an old athletic sock, cut some tassels in the open end. Braid your horses tail tight starting a few inches below the dock, rubber band to secure, and then roll it up and put it in the sock. Now you can use the tassels to thread through the top of the braid and tie in a knot to secure. Make sure you are able to undo this wrap and inspect and possibly re-wash and re-braid once a week. Horse's tails can and will rot off.
Thrush is a fungus that loves moisture. When you bring your horse in, make SURE you pick his hooves out well. If you see any white powder like flakes coming from his hoof, that is thrush. If left untreated, it will eat away at his foot, and can eventually cause bleeding and severe lameness. If the pasture is ONLY mud, consider having him stalled a portion of the day to let his feet dry out.
MUD FEVER (scratches):
This is a bacterial and sometimes fungal infection of the skin on the horse's lower legs, generally speaking on the pastern area. This happens when the skin is made weak by being wet for a period of time and then small pieces of sand, grit, dirt, manure, or shavings actually get ground into the skin. Prevention is simple: don't make your horse stand in wet conditions for long periods of time. If possible, feed hay in varying areas so they aren't always standing in the same spot. Another idea is to have him inside to completely dry out for a portion of the day.
Don't forget, you can be affected by mud also. Bring a pair of rubber mud boots to the barn so you don't ruin your leather boots, and make sure your feet stay dry, or you could be putting yourself at risk for athletes foot, which is similar to thrush in horses.
What are your tips and tricks??