Monday, 2 November 2009

Mud fever, what mud fever?!

I was talking to a friend about Angel, and telling her that he looks very much like her horse (very dark bay, almost black with a small white star), except that he has 3 white legs.

Her immediate comment was "So he'll get mud fever on all of those!" I replied that he seemed fine, in fact, and then it occurred to me that actually I've not had a problem with mud fever in any winter since the horses went barefoot.

Bear in mind that of the horses here, Felix, Ghost, Angel and Bailey have 3 white legs each and Charlie has 4 white legs. Hector only has 2, but also has the thinnest, most sensitive skin you could hope to find.

It rains all year round, and although they always have the barn to get dry in, there is a LOT of wet ground, both where they live and where we ride. It can't just be that they can get dry in the barn, either, because most shod horses here are stabled at night over the winter, as mine used to be, and we used to have a problem with mud fever even in Hampshire, which was much drier than here.

I realised during our first winter barefoot that mud fever was much less of a problem in barefoot horses than shod horses, and clients reported the same, but because I hardly ever come across it now, I'd forgotten what an absolute pain in the backside it used to be, from this time of year onwards :-)


cptrayes said...

I'm convinced it's the blood supply - if blood supply is reduced below the knee in a shod horse then the skin must surely be less healthy and the immune response to mudfever bugs (which are as common as bread mould) must be weakened too.

I too have seen mud fever disappear as my horses feet have got better!


Anonymous said...

On the flip side to this, has anyone found that sweet-itch is less prevalant in barefoot horses due to the controled grass intake?? I've always believed that sweet-itch is due to feeding issues making the horse more sensitive to the midges bites. Anyone found their horse's sweet-itch improve since going bare??


Nic Barker said...

Quite a few people have, but some people assumed it was the additional MgO which made the difference - interesting if you've found the change in grass has made a difference too...Food for thought...