After a lovely summer we are now well into autumn, with winter unfortunately just around the corner. With not many of us liking the dark nights and the cold wet weather there is also so much else we need to think about, for ourselves and our animals from a health concern point of view too. Here are our top 5 most common things you may find you have issues with this winter, how you can deal with them and how we might be able to help.
- Mud rash / fever. Quick guide, what you need to know:
- Mud Rash is a frustrating condition caused by bacteria, creating scabs, crusty exudates and matting of the hairs over the lower legs, especially the fetlocks, pasterns & areas that get most exposed to mud. The bacteria can live in the soil for years and anytime your horse has a small defect in its skin it can penetrate, multiply and an infection can establish which may be very painful, especially if the legs swell it can cause lameness.
- It is more commonly seen on horses with feathers and on white legs. Horses with white socks seem to be more at risk, but all horses can get mud fever.
- Prevention is better than having to treat. Hygiene is a very important factor, both in treatment and prevention. The bacteria grows best in damp, warm conditions. If the horse comes in with just a little mud on the legs allow them to dry naturally then brush off the dry mud, if the legs are completely caked in mud, wash the legs off with an anti-bac wash, and thoroughly dry the legs. If your horse has feathers they will need to be trimmed/clipped to help drying time. If scabs develop, scrub the legs with warm water and anti-bac wash. Work it into a lather and then leave on for 10-15 minutes to allow contact time for the anti-bac to kill the bacteria. Sometimes you need to soak the leg to loosen the scabs. The legs must be dried after cleaning the scabs off, some use a dry towel or a hair dryer if the horse will allow. Repeat at least twice a day, or whenever the horse is exposed to muddy conditions.
- Do not bandage as this promotes moistness.
- Barrier creams can be applied after cleaning and drying the legs. Barrier creams can also be used as a preventative to reduce or prevent mud rash.
- Mud-chaps can be put on in the field but care must be taken that they are dried daily and don’t rub the legs and make the skin irritation worse (https://theanimaltherapyhub.com/product/turnout-mud-fever-boots/)
- Keeping horses in while they are suffering from mud rash may be beneficial. However, some horses’ legs swell up if kept in. For these horses, exercise at least twice a day before then cleaning up and drying them.
- If mud rash develops or worsens into lymphangitis or cellulitis it is then called mud fever due to the high temperatures it causes, which requires antibiotics and some require anti-inflammatories/painkillers.
- Our recommended products for dealing with mud rash are:
2. Arthritis. Even though arthritis affects our horses, dogs, and our selves all year round, it seems to be felt more by all in the cold wet weather. It is degradation of the cartilage of the joint either caused by trauma or gradual long term damage. It causes inflammation and pain especially on movement so gives sufferers reduced mobility. Even though it is a condition more commonly affecting the older generations it can be seen in horses, dogs and people from a much younger age also and has been linked to certain types of work too young especially n horses. In horses the most common joints affected are hocks, stifles, fetlocks, coffin joints & neck joints, in dogs stifles and hocks, and in people hips and knees. There is no “cure” the aim is to halt or slow the cycle of inflammation that brings further damage, ease pain and stiffness, and support the regeneration of cartilage as much as is possible. We have products that can help do some or all of these things some working from the outside in and some working from the inside out. Unlike other retailers we don’t just stock any old supplements that people are asking for we only stock the ones we believe in which is why when it comes to joints we only stock 2; Science Supplements FlexAbility and BettaLife Pharmaquin (Equine, Canine & You). Pharmaquin is the Highest Specification Joint Supplement on the Market with a research driven formula of 10-10-4 Ratio of Glucosamine HCl, MSM & Chondroitin using only the highest grade active ingredients, and unlike many others on the market contains zero additives/bulkers/binders/fillers etc. Check out ow your joint supplement compares in the picture this guide is also available and zoomable if you follow the link to the product page. Other products we have that will help from the outside include the Back on Track range, Photizo, Arc Equine and many more.
3. Rugging up. Always a complete mine field with everyone having their own opinions regarding which rug to use on their horse in certain temperatures and conditions, there is a quick guide here from our friends at Shires Equestrian which is extremely useful, but for more in depth information checkout the information from the God of equine thermoregulation research, Dr David Marlin.
TIME TO BRING OUT THE RUGS? MAYBE NOT QUITE YET!As the overnight temperatures dip to ~5°c we are pulling out the…
4. Muscle strain. This goes for horses, dogs and ourselves going out in the cold exercising weather it is riding or other exercise. The temperatures drop, we clip our horses but we are still wanting muscles to perform exactly the same. The muscles are colder too and will take longer to warm up and the surface/superficial muscles that are directly exposed to the cold air will take considerably longer to warm up, which we sometimes forget. During this time the muscles will not be able to work effectively and if we push them too hard too fast we risk them straining, tearing, pulling. So, how can we prevent this?
- Give extra time to warm up & cool down
- Use an exercise sheet for horses, rugs or coats for dogs and appropriate clothing for us. Preferably items with infrared for added muscular benefit such as Back on Track which is available for horses, dogs & people. For horses the Back on track exercise sheet is fleece and we also have a waterproof version too which is ideal. For dogs weather you prefer water proof, fill/no fill, fleece there is something for all, and all sizes no matter how big or small your dog their muscles all need to be warmed up in the same way. There is a full range of Back on Track clothing available for people both sports wear and casual wear.
- Keep up to date with regular bodywork sessions so that small muscular strains can be isolated, kept on top of and worked on regularly to prevent them getting any worse, again this goes for you and your animals. For horses Cheshire Equine Therapy.
5. Changing weight affecting saddle fit. Most horses go into winter carrying a little extra weight from summer, but it does soon begin to drop off as the quality of grass begins to decline. As we see our horses every day it is difficult for us to notice these minute changes daily, but over a longer period such as a couple of months, this can be quite a drastic weight change which we sometimes just don’t notice because it has happened so slowly over time. When this happens the saddle can start to move around causing soreness in your horses back, I especially find this to be apparent when I am treating horses in the spinalis area, behind the scapula and in the muscles at back of the saddle area. Also if you clip your horse and you don’t leave a saddle patch, dependant on the thickness of your horse’s hair or coat it may alter you horses back profile by 1-2cm, in saddle terms that can be a whole width difference. If you feel like your saddle is moving a little backwards or forwards, from side to side, if you notice your girth is going up a lot more than it normally does, if the saddle feels like it is hitting you on the backside as you rise, get your saddle fit checked by an SMS qualified saddle fitter. Even if you think your saddle fit is good and none of these things are happening, it can be advisable to get it checked as a preventative step mid winter to ensure that this doesn’t happen.