It is funny how much you can learn about a disease over the course of a couple weeks. (Has it really only been 2 weeks?!)
First of all, I really want to thank my followers and
commenters and facebook friends for the outpouring of
support, commiseration and advice. Mud fever is a new one for me, and it
feels good to know that
even you guys (who I consider to be outstanding horsekeepers!) have
I have certainly been inundated with advice on treating
it. It seems everyone I know, and many relative strangers, and most of the
internet, has a preferred remedy. So far, the advice is as follows:
Wash his feet every day.
Wash his feet once a week.
Don’t wash his feet.
Clip the affected area down to the skin.
Avoid clipping the area.
Remove the scabs every day.
Don’t touch the scabs.
Apply althlete’s foot cream.
Keep the feet wrapped in gauze.
Keep the feet wrapped in plastic.
Under no circumstances should you wrap the feet.
Try feeding more copper.
Try feeding more iron.
Try feeding fish oil.
Keep him away from water.
Keep him away from rich grass.
Keep him away from clover.
Truly, I wish that I had the time and facilities to try
every known remedy, one at a time, in a scientific vacuum, double-blind study.
But here’s something really interesting that I learned.
What we call mud fever or scratches is just a name for the symptom of
inflammation of the skin of the lower legs. The disease in question—the actual
cause of the inflammation—can be fungus or bacteria or pressure, and one can
lead to the other.
Speaking of. EnduranceGranny mentioned in her reply to my
original post that she’s seen a correlation between clover and mud fever. I am
amazed it took me until today to really put that together. Guess who’s horse
was enjoying a new section of pasture at the end of May. Guess what the main
forage is in that little corner of pasture. I did a quick google search that
yielded a bit of info about the link. I didn’t get a biochemical explanation
(yet), but the anecdotal evidence is certainly there.
I have been as good as my word and recruited helpers to
make sure Blue gets a hefty smear of TriCare morning and night. On nights when
I am there, I also add the DMSO/Panacur paste. In theory the DMSO helps the
other meds penetrate. And yes, I wear gloves.
We are seeing progress, though I would not characterize
the problem as solved. The front pasterns seem to have mostly run their course.
He’s bald from heel to fetlock, but yesterday there was only a tiny bit of
scabbing on the edges.
The hind feet are my Waterloo. For one thing, Blue is not
excited about me treating them. I praise this horse to the skies for being such
a good sport for most things. And really, given the circumstances, he has been
a trouper. Anyway, he doesn’t snatch his foot away when I start smearing the
goo on there… but he does lift his foot higher and higher to almost acrobatic
levels. He doesn’t actually kick, so I think this super-high leg lift is sort
of a displacement activity for the kicks he would like to give me every time I
rub stinky ointment into his sores.
The good news is that his is not lame and the lower leg
swelling is down. The bad news is that every time I rub ointment in, more clumps of hair come out.
The further good news is that he is eager to work. I worked him hard on the lunge line yesterday. He was sound and energetic—surprisingly focused. I say surprisingly because there were two draft horses loose in the arena while I was working him. They watched from a respectful distance; I was proud of all three horses for their composure.
I will start riding him again this week.
Here's my question: Is it ethical to take him to Renegade? Assuming he's mostly closed and healed (hopefully totally closed and healed), is he still contagious? Are swollen, bald pasterns going to get me pulled?
I don't want the vet to pick up his foot during the pre-ride exam and then pick up the feet of 40 other horses and spread this awful mess.