Winter signals darker evenings and colder, wetter days. These changes in the weather bring with them changes in our horses’ routines and management. Winter horse care covers a range of topics from feeding to clipping and rugging to colic and exercise regimes. But what about your horse’s legs? Vulnerable to injuries and infections, it is essential to care for our horses’ legs during the colder months. This blog article outlines some of the ways in which we can care for our horses’ legs this winter.
Keeping Horses’ Legs Clean in Winter
Keeping your horse’s legs clean is one of the main ways in which you can minimise the likelihood of mud fever and other skin infections. Clean legs also allow you to spot any problems early.
Mud fever is a skin infection that tends to occur during prolonged exposure to wet, muddy conditions. Keeping the horse’s legs clean and dry will help minimise the chance of the skin becoming damaged and allowing the bacteria to infect it.
It is usually best to avoid washing the legs. If possible, allow the legs to dry before brushing the mud off. If you need to wash the legs, make sure you dry them properly before turning the horse back out. Well-fitting turnout or mud fever boots can also help keep the mud at bay. However, boots should be changed regularly. You should remove them at least daily and check the legs for signs of infection, damage or injury. Remember that your horse’s legs won’t just get wet and muddy out in the field. Dirty bedding, muddy puddles out hacking and even the arena surface can all cause skin irritation.
Unfortunately, mud fever and other skin infections can sometimes take hold and prove very stubborn to get rid of. For horse owners who have tried everything, Cryochaps have an innovative solution. Kyowave mud fever boots use blue light technology to destroy bacteria known to cause mud fever.
Clipping the Legs
Whether to clip the legs or not depends on a few factors. Some horses will have their legs clipped if they are in heavy work throughout the winter (e.g. hunters). Furthermore, some horses may have their feathers clipped off to help prevent issues such as mud fever and mites. Clipping the legs can make it easier to spot problems early on. However, the hair on your horse’s legs also serves to provide protection from the cold. Furthermore, it may actually reduce the chance of skin damage and infection.
You should seek advice from your vet if you are unsure of whether to clip your horse’s legs or feathers.
Ensure Exercise Boots Fit Properly
Clean, dry well-fitting exercise boots can also help to keep your horse’s legs healthy over the winter. Exercise boots that fit properly and are not wet or dirty are less likely to rub and damage the skin. It is a good idea to wash and dry boots between uses and having a spare set of boots can also come in handy.
The Exoskeleton Tendon Boots by Cryochaps are versatile, super lightweight boots that don’t hold much water or sweat. The protective armour does not hold water, and the soft spacer fabric wicks away moisture as the horse moves. This helps minimise the chance of rubbing and discomfort, and it also means the boots will dry out quickly after being washed or used.
Slips and Trips
Icy conditions can be hazardous for you and your horse. Clearing snow and ice from the yard and putting down salt can help to reduce the chance of people and horses slipping. Take care if you decide to ride or hack out, as roads and bridleways are likely to be icy or slippery.
It is also worth having a supply of ice packs or ice wraps in your equine (and human) first aid kits in the event that someone does fall and injure themselves. Applying ice and compression as part of first aid can help manage pain and inflammation. The Cryochaps Absolute Wrap is a versatile ice wrap that can be used on knees, hocks, fetlocks and pasterns, making it ideal for providing ice and compression to injuries. Of course, you should always call your vet if you are concerned or unsure.
Icing After Exercise in Winter
Cold hosing your horse’s legs after exercise is vital to helping their soft tissues recover, but it may also present a hazard. In cold weather, the water may turn to ice if it’s left to sit on the yard, which can cause people or horses to slip. Furthermore, pipes may freeze in very cold temperatures, making cold hosing impossible! Cryochaps ice boots provide a clean, tidy and convenient alternative to cold hosing, so you can ice your horse’s legs safely and effectively this winter.
Watch Out For Laminitis this Winter
Sunny days followed by frosty nights can cause sugars to accumulate in the grass. If your horse or pony is prone to laminitis, it may be advisable to keep them stabled or turn them out in a non-grassy area until the frost has gone. Whilst you should always contact your vet for advice regarding laminitis or if you think your horse may have laminitis, icing the hooves may help to relive some of the pain whilst you wait for the vet. Icing with the Cryochaps Absolute Wraps may be particularly beneficial in the event of laminitis caused by inflammation.
Cryochaps | Christmas Gifts for Horse Owners
Cryochaps are designed with the horse’s care, comfort and performance front and centre. Our products come in handy all year round, whether that’s during or after exercise, or in the event of an injury. Our ice boots, exercise boots and blue light boots make fantastic Christmas gifts for horse owners who want the very best in leg care and protection for their horses.