Muddy Mishaps: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

One of my horses, Tonto, is on the disabled list from an ankle injury after slipping in the paddock following a period of heavy rain. It caught me by surprise because this horse detests inclement weather, so much that he seldom stirs in the mud. But it’s a good reminder that some simple precautions can go a long way in preventing serious problems later.

Lameness is my biggest concern right now, but there are others, too.

Standing in mud or water for prolonged periods can lead to fungal and bacterial infections of the feet, such as scratches and thrush. Long periods of standing, in general, can cause poor circulation and impaired digestion. Depression, immune system dysfunction and behavioral problems can also result.

Make the Best of a Bad Situation

If possible, restrict access to sloppy areas, especially if there is standing water. And, if necessary, rearrange essentials on higher ground where there’s better drainage, but don’t expect your horse to travel slippery terrain to obtain food, water or shelter. Overall, there’s no need to pen your horse – he still needs fresh air and sunshine – just make a dry area available.

Excessive rain tends to wash all sorts of things to the surface – rocks, glass and other debris. The water also can stir up organisms in the ground, so make sure your horse is current on his tetanus vaccination. And don’t forget the bug spray.