Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ugh. Yeah, it's mud fever.

I felt so optimistic on Wednesday. I had a workable explanation for the problem. It wasn't too severe. It was only the front legs.

What a difference a few days can make!

I went out this morning with very noble intentions of doing some arena work. I was going to ride in the Kuda, we were going to do lateral work, it was going to be awesome.

I caught Blue and started leading him back toward the barn. He was walking really slowly and stiffly. Optimist that I am, I assumed this was because he didn't want to leave his buddies and the sunshine to go work.

I tied him up and picked out his front feet first. There was still some scabbing on his pasterns, but the skin underneath looked better. It didn't seem actively irritated, except maybe a little from me scrubbing off the scabs.

But the back pasterns. Remember how they looked perfectly clear on Wednesday? Today they have TEXTBOOK scratches. I didn't take pics, but if you do a google image search for mud fever, you have seen what I saw. Swollen, irritated, cracked open sores across both hind pasterns in the crease above the heel bulbs.The open sores are deep and angry-looking, like someone cut the backs of his pasterns with a knife and rubbed dirt in there.

So, forget the arena work. We need to take care of the scratches.

I washed all four feet from hoof to past the fetlock, rinsing my hands in between each one. I used microtek shampoo and really scrubbed hard. The black hind leg seems to be the most painful. The pastern is swollen tight, and the area around the open sore is thick and hard, almost like it is calloused. The white hind foot has the larger sore, but not nearly the level of swelling.

It was my good luck that there was a fellow boarder out there to consult. She just happens to own a mostly-white paint horse (Cash). She told me that he gets mud fever every year, and in his case it can go all the way up the leg if she doesn't catch it early.

The good thing about it is that she has tried just about everything to clear it up. In theory, Blue and Cash are exposed to the same fungus/bacteria because they are pastured together. That means, maybe, that whatever works to clear it up on Cash should work on Blue.

Cash's Mom said she had already tried microtek and vetricyn. Also MTG, tea tree oil, bleach solution and a few things that are supposedly specifically for mud fever. She says none of them work as fast for her as Tri-Care ointment. And lucky me, she had some I could use until I could go to the feed store and get my own.

It is thick, heavy, sticky, metholated ointment. I slathered him in it. Hopefully it will stick for a day until I can go out again and reapply. It seems heavy enough that it should provide some protection.

While I was at Wilco getting the Tri-Care, I picked up some DMSO and Panacur too. I put a note up on the blackboard to see if if Bob or another boarder could help me make sure Blue gets smeared in Tri-Care in the mornings and the homemade blend once he's back in his stall in the evenings. If we can make sure it happens every day, it should clear up in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime, that makes us a "no" for Sunriver and bumps us down to a "maybe" on Renegade. It will depend how well this heals and if he maintains some fitness... and if my pocketbook can handle the cost of driving out and treating several times a week.

Blue's playing in the creek seems a lot less funny today. I don't know where Bob can put him that he won't get wet, other than keeping him indoors. And I can tell you this is not a horse who enjoys being indoors when everyone else is outside! We'll have to talk it over.

I'm also regretting clipping Blue's legs. The feathers might have prevented this. No way to know that for sure, but I will let them grow back out and leave them on him next year. No amount of vanity makes up for missing a ride I REALLY wanted to do just because my horse has a preventable infection. Please remind me next march that the feathers are a good thing, not an eyesore.

Ugh. I miss the desert.


  1. Life on the Swampy side is never dull...and rarely dry. Sorry. Is there a stall where he can be indoors and dry at night? That can make a huge difference.

  2. Oh no! That really sucks. Sorry it ended up being the dreaded scratches after all- I've been through the ringer with them too and it can be very frustrating. At some point we should dry out a little over here, usually after 4th of July for Castle Rock.

  3. @Aarene: Yep, he's in a stall every night. It is matted and lightly bedded. Since it is summer, they usually come in around 7 or 8 p.m. typically and go back out at 9 or 10 a.m. after breakfast.

    The barn manager has been on vacation all week, but I will talk to him as soon as I see him again. My Spanish isn't idiomatic enough to speak intelligently with the man who's doing stalls this week. :( There is a turnout area without creek access where Bob keeps the big drafties. I'll see if Blue can be in there for a couple weeks at least, since it is the most consistently dry and mud-free of all the pastures.

  4. One remedy is to mix desitin (zinc oxide) with triple antibiotic ointment and antifungal ointment (all from drug store). Spread on plastic wrap, wrap around the affected area. Cover with vet wrap, leave on overnight. Scratches gone in morning.

  5. Don't regret clipping. I've been fighting this issue with Farah for months now & finally have it down to one leg. I just asked the advice of a new Vet last week. She gave a "new" name to the problem & did suggest clipping next time. If you will send me your private email - I will forward the email with the info. onto you. I'm at