IDEN­TI­FY­ING LEG “CRUD”

EQUUS - - Eq Hands on -

Sev­eral dif­fer­ent skin con­di­tions can lead to scab­bing and crust­ing on a horse’s lower limbs. Here are some ques­tions to help you nar­row down the cause of the prob­lem:

Are only white ar­eas af­fected? If scabs are cov­er­ing only your horse’s white mark­ings---and es­pe­cially if all ar­eas cov­ered by white hair are af­fected ---chances are good that what you are see­ing is pho­to­sen­si­ti­za­tion. This is an in­tense in­flam­ma­tory re­ac­tion that oc­curs when a horse in­gests cer­tain plants that con­tain pho­to­toxic com­pounds. Th­ese sub­stances en­ter the blood­stream and, when ex­posed to sun­light through pink skin, cause painful blis­ter­ing and crust­ing. Treat­ing pho­to­sen­si­ti­za­tion is a multi-step process. You need to iden­tify and elim­i­nate the causative plant (al­sike clover and St. Johnswort are com­mon cul­prits) and shield the horse from sun­light with UVpro­tec­tive sheets and wraps or turn him out only af­ter sun­down. Se­vere cases may call for top­i­cal treat­ments or sys­temic med­i­ca­tions pre­scribed by a vet­eri­nar­ian to ease your horse’s dis­com­fort or re­duce in­flam­ma­tion.

Are the scabs on the back of the fet­lock? Skin ir­ri­ta­tion lim­ited to this spe­cific lo­ca­tion of the leg is typ­i­cally a case of scratches, which is chap­ping of the skin and as­so­ci­ated in­fec­tion. You can han­dle mild cases on your own by washing the area, dry­ing it thor­oughly and clip­ping the hair care­fully. Then ap­ply a layer of an­tibi­otic oint­ment, fol­lowed by a layer of thick pro­tec­tive cream, such as the type used to treat di­a­per rash. Keep­ing the area dry and cov­ered in oint­ment for a few days should do the trick. If it doesn’t, call your vet­eri­nar­ian.

Is the scab­bing only on the front of the rear pasterns? Ac­cu­mu­lated skin scurf in this area is of­ten called “stud

crud” and is thought to be a re­ac­tion to male horses splash­ing their legs with urine. It may also be caused by ex­ces­sive oil se­creted by se­ba­ceous glands in that area. In ei­ther case, it’s harm­less and can be cleared up with med­i­cated sham­poo sup­plied by your vet­eri­nar­ian.

Is there also crust­ing on the back and sides of the body? Dif­fuse scab­bing on a horse’s rump or flanks as well as his limbs is likely rain­rot, a con­di­tion caused by pro­lif­er­a­tion of Der­matophilus spp. bac­te­ria that nor­mally live harm­lessly on a horse’s skin. In wet, hu­mid weather, the bac­te­ria mul­ti­ply, ir­ri­tat­ing hair fol­li­cles and caus­ing a dis­tinc­tive type of crust­ing. To treat rain­rot, mas­sage min­eral oil into his coat, which will en­cour­age the scabs to slide off on their own within a day or two. Then, bathe him with a med­i­cated sham­poo. Per­sis­tent cases or those on old, ill or oth­er­wise im­munecom­pro­mised horses may re­quire an an­tibi­otic from your vet­eri­nar­ian.

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