Managing Mud Monsters
Managing Mud Monsters
By Dr Jim Rawlinson
After an unseasonable dry few weeks, the rain has returned, and so the constant battle against mud resumes. We stable every evening which means we can remove the mud and give legs and heals a chance to dry. It does add significant time and work to the daily routine but it’s time well spent.
Mud Fever can establish quickly so constant vigilance is essential. I personally find that Hector, the warmblood, is most prone. Both the ponies have full feathering and can come in looking plastered. But usually allowing the mud to dry and brushing off is generally all that’s needed. Hector has little natural feathering and I find a more active approach is needed. So, with him I will tend to wash the mud off with warm water when he comes in, then crucially I dry the skin off, particularly the deep hollow above the bulbs of the heal where moisture can get trapped.
Nettex has a great range of products to help with mud. Their Seven Day Mud Away is a unique product that makes for easier winter grooming. It prevents mud sticking to the coat for up to seven days, so muck and dirt is easy to brush off.
If your horse has already succumbed to the negative effects of mud then there are other products within the Nettex range that you can use as a step-by-step, in-depth management regime to help keep legs clean, remove minor scabs and provide a physical barrier to further muddy conditions. These products include: Nettex Equine Veterinary Scrub, Muddy Marvel Barrier Cream, Muddy Marvel De-scab, and Muddy Marvel Disinfect. If your horse is suffering from mud fever speak to a vet before using any product solutions.
Rugs can obviously help keep the mud off, and Hector and Yulia (the Andalusian) usually have turnout rugs on. They are clipped and in full work so benefit from the extra protection.
But so far this year, this hasn’t been necessary for the ponies. It’s tempting sometimes to help keep them clean but there are advantages in leaving them off. Both are natives with good winter coats so can easily cope with most weather conditions.
More importantly, going unrugged can help with weight management. Henry, our Welsh C, is very prone to weight gain. Even though he is fit and doing a moderate amount of work, we must try very hard to keep him at a healthy weight. At this time of year, he will be using energy to keep warn which helps to shed any excess pounds he picked up over the summer. Our aim is to help him lose weight so he will be in a healthy & lean condition before the spring grass kicks in.
Hoofcare is another important management routine at this time of year. Whether indoors or out, the soles and heels are constantly damp so need attention. Again, it’s Hector that is the most disposed to problems if I don’t keep on top of his hoof hygiene regime. But it’s still important for all the herd.
When removing the mud when they come in, I prefer to use a stiff brush so I can get it all off from under the coronary band and between the bulbs of the heel and shoe. After picking out, I brush out the sulci of the frog and ensure no mud remains where the shoe turns in. If it’s very wet, I’ll also dry these areas with a towel. This is essential to avoid thrush setting in which can strike quickly at this time of year and can be hard to shift.
The Nettex Hoofcare range contains grooming kit essentials that can help keep hoof, sole and frog healthy through the winter. I have childhood memories of messy cans of solid Stockholm tar and ending up with more on me or the horses’ legs than on the sole. But Nettex Hoof Tar is a highly effective version of Stockholm Tar in an easy-to-use aerosol spray. So, there is far less mess and waste. It’s important the sole and frog are clean and dry before application though so it’s not a short cut for good hygiene.
Nettex Frog Health is ideal for regular use as part of your hoof hygiene regime as its antibacterial agents support hoof hygiene. Applied weekly it’s ideal for stables horses or those living out in wet conditions.