Why Does My Horse Get Scabby Legs When it’s Wet? A common problem seen when we have rain. Lets see what our 4 experts have to say about it.

Dr Craig Simon BVSc, All Horses Vet Services

Why Does My Horse Get Scabby Legs When it’s Wet?

The skin normally provides a protective barrier to the body, but if this barrier is broken, infection can occur resulting in scabby and inflamed legs. A common site for this infection to occur is on the back of the pasterns or heel areas, and white haired areas are often involved.

Mud fever is the common term used to describe this condition. It is essentially a form of dermatitis, which can be very painful causing swelling, crusting and lameness in some horses.

The bacterium that is normally involved is called Dermatophilus congolensis. The bacteria flourish in areas on the body that are subjected to moist conditions as constant wetting causes damage to the surface layer of the skin allowing infection to develop in the deeper tissues. Left untreated the skin can get very inflamed, thick, scabby and painful. Other bacteria can then invade causing secondary and mixed infections.

As moist conditions predispose horses to this disease, prevention is geared towards reducing or removing contact with wet grass or stables. Good stable management is very important, ensuring the bedding is kept clean and dry. If possible avoid prolonged wetting during rainy periods by allowing access to stables or high ground. Even the dew on long grass in the morning can lead to mud fever. If your horse is this sensitive then it is sensible to wait until the grass dries before turning the horse out.

Linn Higgins, Herbalist, www.herbs4horses.net

Why Does My Horse Get Scabby Legs When it’s Wet?

It sounds as if your horse has Greasy Heel, also known as Mud Fever. Symptoms include scabs around the heel and pasterns. This tends to occur in horses on boggy ground, or after extended periods of rain, when the pasture becomes muddy. This sets the ideal conditions for fungal infections to flourish.

Natural treatment includes washing down the legs with natural shampoo to remove any mud and to clean the area. Rinse well with clean water. For the final rinse, add 20 drops of Lavender Essential oil to 1 cup of water. Lavender has traditionally been used herbally for its antiseptic, wound healing and insect repellent qualities.

Gently pat the legs dry and apply a herbal cream. Anything that contains Calendula is best; the flowers of this plant have been used for centuries for their antifungal, antiseptic and wound healing qualities. Cover cream with plastic wrap and then lightly bandage.

Leave 24 hours, remove bandage, then wash away any scabs that come off easily. Avoid pulling scabs off (very painful for your horse). Repeat this process daily. When all the scabs are off, continue this regime daily, but leave un-bandaged, until all the hair has grown back in.

My favourite cream for Greasy Heel is Herbal Healer for Horses. It contains high concentrations of Calendula and has been thickened with shea butter, so it won’t slide off open sores. It also has essential oils regarded as natural insect repellents.

CAUTION: Watch closely as Greasy Heel can progress into cellulitis, which is very serious, and requires urgent veterinary treatment.

Sally Hart, www.chemkol.com.au

Why Does My Horse Get Scabby Legs When it’s Wet?

Greasy heel appears on lower legs as patches of scurf beneath hair that looks matted or sticky. Under the scurf the skin will be red, and oozing. Greasy heel is also sometimes known as mud fever. Cracked skin in the pastern areas can be difficult to heal since the area is always flexing as the horse walks. The pain from the inflamed skin can cause the horse to appear lame.

Left untreated the skin can become deeply cracked, and infected. If paddocks are muddy, it may be hard to provide a place where the horse’s hoofs and legs aren’t wet. But if the horse’s legs are constantly damp the bacteria that causes grease heel can thrive. Washing daily with Anivac Pure oxygen fungal wash will prevent greasy heel and other bacterial infections in poor conditions including muddy paddocks or damp stables.

Greasy heel may be more prevalent in the spring when paddocks are muddy and damp. Don’t allow Dampness from urine to build up in stables. Mild to extreme greasy heel can be treated by brushing away any dirt and dead hair, soaking with Anivac Pure Oxygen Fungal wash. Leave the Pure oxygen on the skin and Keep the area clean and dry, continue daily treatment until the condition is gone. Don’t apply wraps or bandages that may hold in dampness. Keep the horse in a clean dry area to prevent recurrence. Any brushes or equipment used on a horse with grease heel should also be cleaned in Pure Oxygen fungal wash before use on another horse. It may be easier to keep a separate set of brushes for each horse being treated to prevent cross-contamination.

Anivac Pure oxygen Fungal wash is a safe blend of Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide and fungicidal solution which was away bacteria quickly and easily. Just soak in and leave to dry. See results in less than 24hrs. 100% money back guarantee.

Cathy Tighe, Homeopath, www.healwithease.com

Why Does My Horse Get Scabby Legs When it’s Wet?

This condition is generally related to but not always the Streptococcus bacteria or the Dermatophilus Congolensis bacteria. It is know as either mudfever or greasy heel and generally presents as painful sores and scabs, with inflammation, swelling and sometimes infection.

It is one of those issues that settles well with antibiotics. The antibiotics suppress the symptoms back into the body but don’t actually release the bacteria. When conditions are right – wet, humid, high grass, etc we see the mudfever flair up again.

Using energy remedies to treat symptoms and release the bacteria we can stop the ongoing cycle and achieve a long term healing result, without adding more toxins to the body.

If this has been a long term issue with your horse and you have tried lots of chemicals over the period, it will take time to work back through the layers and achieve a good healing.

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Check out our Greasy Heel Factsheet here.