Introduction to Winter Mud
Winter Mud arises during the wet winter months and is predominantly caused by the bacterium Dermatophilus Congolensis. Winter Mud is essentially a form of dermatitis which affects the skin on the heel, fetlock and pastern. All horses can be affected by Winter Mud, but horses with long hair around the fetlock or white skin tend to be more prone. Back legs are the most commonly affected areas, normally in the lower leg area. When a similar condition occurs on the upper body, it is also referred to as Rain Rot. Inflammation of the skin and underlying tissues leads to the skin swelling, stretching and weeping; cracks appear, hair falls out and hard scabs form. Left untreated, Winter Mud can cause bleeding, delays in healing and skin fissuring - which is extremely painful to the touch. Certain horses appear more susceptible than others: those with white skin, especially white legs and heavily feathered legs tend to be more prone. Horses that spend a prolonged amount of time outside in wet and muddy conditions are more susceptible to Winter Mud than those which are regularly stabled, although contaminated, dirty brushing and over-reach boots can trigger symptoms. The bacterium thrives in wet muddy conditions, and our increasingly mild and wet winters are escalating the prevalence of this troublesome condition. Other common names for Winter Mud are cracked heels, scratches, rain rot, greasy heel, mud rash, and dew poisoning.

How to prevent Winter Mud

It is important to correct bad practice, so try to keep horses out of the rain and away from mud as much as possible. Unfortunately though, Winter Mud can at times be extremely difficult to prevent. Some horses will always be more susceptible to Winter Mud than others, and wet muddy fields aggravate the problem. If your horse is susceptible to Winter Mud, you should protect its legs from the wet and mud as much as possible, and apply a barrier. You should also check the legs regularly, and at first signs of soreness, weeping or scabs, treat immediately with an effective Winter Mud cream, to prevent the condition worsening, and clear up the problem.

Action to avoid Winter Mud
Winter Mud can be a very persistent condition, and difficult to treat. There are several important stages to successfully avoiding Winter Mud:

  • The skin must be protected from further contact with the wet or mud whilst being treated.
  • Dry the legs thoroughly before stabling using kitchen towel and keep really clean, brushing out mud, and grit laden debris.
  • Its important to keep stabled horses bedding clean and dry.
  • Try to limit stabling to over-night - horses don’t like being cooped up. And the stress of being stabled 24hrs a day in the winter could engender colic.
  • Clip away any excess feathering but try to avoid clipping the legs.
  • All the scabs must be removed carefully,, so that the treatment can reach the skin. Scabs go black when they are ready to fall off.
  • The infection must then be covered with a product is anti-fungal such as H-10 Ointment.
  • Once the bacteria has been destroyed, the affected area must continue to be protected whilst new skin and hair grows.

H-10 Ointment is ideal for winter mud and all conditions associated with wet mud, it helps with saddle sores, abscesses, blisters, sunburn summer Itch, insect bites stings, fungal and bacterial conditions as well as superficial cuts and grazes. Please consult your vet if you have further problems.