Mud Season and Your Horse

Dollar-store reading glasses might be a good idea.
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Dollar-store reading glasses might be a good idea.

The popularity of mud baths in previous times for human skin care aside, it’s best to remove the mud from your horse. Left on, a constant mud coating can irritate your horse’s skin. The best-known case of this is “scratches” with mud buildup on your horse’s pasterns leading to infection. Even on other areas of your horse the buildup of mud on shedding hair can lead to skin irritation.

For horses, rolling in mud comes a close second to their other favorite rolling practice – rolling in manure. Clean sand is a distant third.

The best way to remove mud is to let it dry and then brush it off. If the timing to do that doesn’t work in your schedule, you might have to resort to hosing the mud off and leaving your horse to drip dry. If you have a case of scratches already present, it is best to towel those areas dry after a hosing.

A curry is often the best tool for mud removal, though if your horse is in full-blown hair shed, a shedding blade may work just as well. Follow the curry job up with a stiff bristle brush to remove any loosened up mud clumps.

Remember the possible bad effects of mud on your horse’s soundness as well. Pulled muscles and tendons can result from a horse hustling through deep mud. Around gate areas in your pastures and paddocks, try to provide some mud relief. Dumped shavings or sawdust may help. If you have a stone dust turnout area, this is the ideal time to use it. Turn the horses out into the driest pasture you have.

There are some human considerations for dealing with mud too. Grooming a number of muddy horses can lead to you inhaling quite a bit of dust – dust that has dirt and manure in it. Throw in the loose hair and dander from a shedding horse and you may have some allergy or asthma reactions. Consider wearing a mask to help filter out the dust and debris. Your lungs will thank you.

I had an epiphany a few years ago about another human mud related problem. I finally noticed that I had to have the lenses of my glasses replaced just about every June. I realized that it was from the added dust building up from grooming multiple muddy equines. When I would return to the house, even though I rinsed my glasses off briefly, enough grit remained to cause scratches on the lenses. That can be an expensive yearly replacement cost, especially since I have now “graduated” to bifocals!

The solution was simple. I now leave my glasses in the milk house we converted to a tack room when I do the “mud groomings.” While I am fairly near sighted, I have always managed to find the horses so far – even the miniature horse :).

I groom everyone, and then replace the glasses if I have to muck out stalls so I won’t miss any manure. You could also pick up some inexpensive reading glasses at the dollar store if you aren’t comfortable without your glasses.

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