About that ankle deep mud...
We've talked about scratches before but it is the northwest gift that keeps on giving so here are a few ideas to avoid getting dizzy from the vicious circle of this locally ubiquitous disease process.
Scratches, crud, greasy heel, foot rot, mud fever, pastern dermatitis... call it what you will, it's nasty, often painful and can lead to serious secondary problems such as cellulitis and lameness. Not a disease per se, this is a cutaneous (skin) reaction to a variety of conditions including chronic moisture, dirt, sun sensitivity, viral, bacterial, fungal, allergy or immune challenges. Signs of the condition vary, but swelling, redness and scaling may be the first you'll notice. They often progress to oozing, hair matting and crusting. Secondary bacterial infection is a common complication and can exacerbate the symptoms. In chronic cases the skin can thicken and form deep cracks due to constant movement in the pastern area. Once these skin reactions become chronic they can be refractory to treatment, so prevention is always the best therapy.
When you see a list of treatments that range from sauerkraut to silver sulfadiazine you can bet there is no single effective therapy. If a discrete cause can be determined (bacterial, fungal, auto immune etc.) it should be treated directly along with antiseptic shampoos and topical ointments to soothe reactive tissues. Some horses will benefit from antibiotics and some from corticosteroids. The best treatment may simply be to clean and dry the affected areas and remove the animal from wet, muddy conditions.
Yep, it's a simple fix... that may be nearly impossible to actually implement over a NW winter. Successful management in less than perfect conditions is still possible with a little effort and creativity. Trimming long hair around the pastern, physically cleaning the area and drying it as best you can and keeping it dry as much as possible are steps in the right direction. Here is a list of some "horse hacks" with creative approaches to battling the crud and other annoyances. (Note; we haven't necessarily tried all these but as long as they do no harm, they might be worth a try.) Do you have any favorite remedies for beating "the crud"?
Home made fly spray: Witch hazel, Apple Cider Vinegar, Water, and your choice of these oils: citronella, eucalyptus, lavender, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, cedar, catnip, or mint. Works amazingly well! And no toxic chemicals!
Head N Shoulders shampoo, supposed to work on rain rot, cannon crud. Listerine, Desitin, use for thrush.
Large white cotton athletic socks (tube socks) with the toes cut off to protect against scratches. With one turn of elasticon around the hoof and a polo to hold it in place it protects against scratches especially in winter. Already have scratches? use anti fungal shampoo and That Blue Stuff and leave the socks on in the stall without the polo. They are breathable so it's a perfect solution to keep the flies off their legs and allow them to heal.
Apply a sauerkraut poultice to scratches, the acid will help drop the ph of the tissues and help them to heal. (we haven't tried this, but there is some logic to it - the lowered ph part anyway)
Coconut oil, spectacular for getting out pine tar or creosote...great on hoofs, manes n tails....also vinegar great as a diluted after bath rinse (cuts soap residue and is (mildly) antimicrobial), also a cleaning agent for buckets etc and can be used as a (leg) brace.
Clean buckets with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, baking soda and peroxide. Add a little of each, then water, then scrub. Leaves water buckets fresh with no toxic remnants.
Try straight apple cider vinegar for fly spray and wipe.
Fig Newton cookies are the best way to give ur horse even the nastiest pills. Just shove them in the figgy part and they can't resist!
Use Maxi pads for wound dressings!