Tip #4: Es­tab­lish ex­tra drainage.

Horse & Rider - - Practice Pen Conformation Clinic - PASTERN DERMATITIS (scratches, mud fever) What it is:

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.

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