When it comes to mud fever prevention is the way forward. Once you are aware that your horse is prone to it there are many ways you can help to prevent it. Firstly it is very important to understand that it is not caused ONLY by mud. It is thought that the continual washing of legs and then not thoroughly drying them also contributes. Mud fever is caused by a bacteria that sits harmlessly on the skin, entering inside the body. This occurs anywhere there is skin damage, and constantly wet legs are much more prone to being damaged as the skin is weaker and softer from the water.
The best prevention for mud fever is keeping the legs dry. If possible section off the muddy parts of the turnout to prevent horses standing in deep mud. If your horse lives out all year round try and create a dry area they come on / in to every day for a few hours to allow the legs to fully dry.
If you have a hairy horse the feathers can offer protection from the mud and water, however they can also exacerbate mud fever because it is so hard to fully dry them, they do also make it much harder to see any mud fever in the early stages. If you do have a heavily feathered horse make sure the feathers are regularly dried and skin is thoroughly checked.
If you are hosing the legs off after turnout and exercise daily make sure the legs are thoroughly dried each time. You can pop a set of stable wraps on after washing to help the legs dry, or you can gently rub the legs with a towel. If your horse allows it using a hair drier is a fantastic way to dry the legs. These methods are all quite time consuming and labour intensive though.
If your horse is coming in for the night you can just put them in the stable with out washing the legs and allow the mud etc to dry naturally before gently brushing it off, to speed up the drying you can pop stable wraps over the muddy legs, and remove once dry and again gently brush the mud off.
Once the legs are clean and fully dry applying a barrier cream is a very good way of stopping the mud from getting to the skin, there are many different types of cream available on the market and it is all down to personal preference. We have a fantastic one available: Nacrimud made from natural ingredients, it helps to form a protective barrier whilst nourishing the skin. You simply coat clean dry legs with it and leave. Any mud can be gently brushed off once dry and the cream slathered on twice a week. It is a very easy to use low maintenance way to help prevent mud fever.
The key is to keep the legs as dry as possible.