Mud fever is a bacterial skin infection that can affect your pony’s heels and lower legs. It causes inflamed skin, swelling, scabbing and matted hair, and in particularly bad cases it can cause hair loss and lameness. Thick, crusty scabs will appear on his heels and lower legs, and there might be a yellow discharge produced from under these. It can be painful, so your pony might not like you touching the his legs.
Just like with everything else, prevention is better than cure, especially if you know your pony’s prone to mud fever. Follow these steps and handy tips to help keep your fave pony free from mud fever this winter.
Do daily checks
Look over and feel your pony’s legs every day. The bulbs of his heel are the most common place for mud fever to be found, but it can appear higher up his legs, too. Each time you pick out your pony’s feet is an ideal opportunity to check for any signs of infection. Remember, the sooner you spot any signs of mud fever the quicker it can be treated.
Help him stay dry
If your pony comes in from the field with muddy legs, avoid washing them. Wait for the mud to dry, then use a soft brush to gently groom him. Although it’s tempting to wash mud off, over-washing or brushing will irritate his skin, making it more prone to developing mud fever. If you have to wash his legs, use an antibacterial shampoo and gently pat them dry with a clean towel afterwards.
Be boot savvy
Warm, damp conditions are perfect for bacteria to grow, so avoid putting boots on wet legs. If you’re planning to go for a hack on a route that is especially wet or muddy, think about whether he really needs to wear boots – he might be better without them.
Find out more ways to help prevent mud fever in January PONY magazine – on sale now!