Tip #4: Establish extra drainage.
Even with a carefully thought-out site plan and properly functioning gutters and downspouts, chances are you’ll find yourself with problem areas where water accumulates. As soon as you identify these places, do something about them before mud gets out of hand. Consider installing “water bars,” a kind of speed bump for water that redirects it toward an area with better drainage. French drains are also easy to construct simply by digging a ditch and filling it with drain rock, and will help carry water to desired drainage areas. If you install French drains in pastures or paddocks where horses live, drains will still function properly if covered with ¼-minus gravel to protect horses’ feet. best-managed farms go as far as cleaning manure from bigger pastures. For very large pastures, cleaning areas with large accumulation, combined with intermittent dragging to spread remaining manure and encourage it to break down is an acceptable alternative.
Mud is a pain to manage, but it can also be a significant threat to your horse’s health. The following are the “big three” of mud health risks.
Microorganisms (a mix of bacteria and fungi) invade the irritated skin of your horse’s lower legs, causing inflammation, swelling, and scabs. At best, pastern dermatitis can cause your horse significant discomfort and be very difficult to treat. At worst, it can lead to a systemic infection. Your horse can develop a fever and go off his feed. And chronic, painful limb swelling may result. What to do: If your horse must be turned out in mud, the most important thing you can do is to groom his legs carefully every day and watch for red skin or scabs that can be early signs of pastern dermatitis. Treatment usually requires a combination of antimicrobials and anti-inflammatory medications. In the early stages, this means scrubbing with an antimicrobial shampoo and treating with ointments containing antibiotics and steroids. When pastern dermatitis becomes severe, your vet may recommend systemic antibiotics and anti-inflammatories in addition to the topical treatments.