Thursday, December 5, 2013

Common Equine Winter Ailments

 Winter, for some, means bitter cold and snow, while for others it means lots of rain and mud. Nevertheless, no matter where you live, you still must watch out for similar ailments in your horse.

Mud Fever
 Mud fever is an infection caused by Dermatophilus congolensis. As the name suggests, it only occurs during moist conditions, such as when a horse stays muddy too long. It causes painful, inflamed sores full of bacteria to erupt on the horse's legs. These scabs carry bacteria and must be gently removed.

 According to Melissa Shelton, DVM, mixing 10-20 drops of lavender essential oil with 4 ounces distilled water into a spritz bottle, then spraying several times a day on the affected area, often relieves the condition. Oils like Roman chamomile and geranium also work well.

 You can even apply the Animal Scents Ointment to the wounds. Just be careful not to hurt your horse while applying it.

 Dr. Shelton also recommends using oregano or Thieves essential oil blend orally for bacterial infections by placing a drop on the horse's lower lip. Be warned, though, that those oils are strong and should only be used in more severe conditions. Even then, you should probably dilute it by mixing it into a moist feed.

 The affected horse should be keep inside a stable if possible while his wounds heal.

Click to enlarge.

Rain Scald
 Rain scald is similar to mud fever and is caused by the same bacteria. It mostly occurs on the back of a horse that has been body clipped and is lacking his winter coat. Again, the spray I mentioned earlier is recommended.

 Colic can be caused by multiple different factors, such as the horse eating quickly. If horse horse colics, you should call your vet. Check out my post about colic for more information.

 In the winter, with the ground likely being frozen or muddy, lameness often occurs. Be careful when you ride and make sure you thoroughly pick out snow and ice when you are done.

 Be on the look out for thrush, a hoof ailment that causes the frog to secrete a black, oily substance. thrush is caused by the horse standing on wet, muddy ground for extended periods of time.

 As with anything, prevention is best. Check your horse regularly to make sure he is dry and warm.


  1. Writing all this stuff out is a great learning tool. By the time you have your own horse you will be quite knowledgeable. Great job!

    1. Thank you! I love doing the research for my posts and learning as I write.

  2. Hello,

    I love the information you put out! Very good!

    Baby girl pettiskirts

  3. Great information, I've always loved horses and much of this is new information to me. So glad you shared your post on the HomeAcre hop, hope to see you again tomorrow! - Nancy The HomeAcre Hop


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