Mud fever is a stubborn and uncomfortable condition that tends to affect horses’ lower legs during the wet winter months. Whilst mud fever can be difficult to treat effectively, preventing mud fever is possible with effective horse management. This blog article outlines the steps horse owners can take to help prevent mud fever taking hold this winter.
What is Mud Fever in Horses?
Mud fever is a generic term used to describe a skin infection, which usually affects the horse’s lower legs. Sometimes known as pastern dermatitis, cracked heels or greasy heel, mud fever can be caused by bacteria, fungus or mites.
Mud fever usually occurs during the wet winter months. However, it can also occur at other times of the year. For example, dewey grass can caused a condition sometimes known as “dew burn” and what we commonly know as “rain scald” can affect horses during prolonged rainy periods.
Mud fever occurs when the skin becomes damaged and gets infected. This can happen as a result of prolonged exposure to wet, muddy conditions (e.g. standing in a muddy field) and can be aggravated by boots that rub, as well as sand or arena surface irritating already damaged skin.
Preventing Mud Fever
Preventing mud fever relies on good horse and pasture management. By preventing the initial infection, it is easier to keep the dreaded mud fever at bay. Things horse owners can do to help prevent mud fever include:
Effective Pasture Management
- Rotating fields used for turnout so that each field is given adequate time to rest
- Placing a surface or matting down near gates, water troughs and feeding stations
- Changing where you leave feed or hay, so that the same area is not being trampled every day
- Provide hardstanding somewhere in the field, so that the horses do not need to stand in the mud all day
Keep Those Legs Clean and Dry
- Wait for mud to dry before brushing it off – avoid washing the horse’s legs every day, as this can irritate the skin
- Check the legs daily for any signs of irritation or broken skin
- Bring the horse in and allow the legs time to dry and recover from being out in the elements
- Barrier creams or turnout boots may help – be sure to use any creams as directed and change turnout boots regularly to avoid making the problem worse
Avoid damage or injury to the skin
- Check your horse’s legs daily for any sign of irritation, injury or infection and contact your vet if you are unsure
- Ensure any turnout boots or exercise boots worn by your horse are clean, dry and fit properly to avoid rubbing and abrasion
Kyowave: Blue Light Boots
Kyowave is a product designed by Cryochaps that uses blue light technology to kill the bacteria known to cause mud fever. Our blue light boot uses a specific wavelength of blue light to destroy bacteria, and lab studies have shown Kyowave to be effective against Staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Kyowave is available to purchase as a single boot.