3 Answers to the most commonly asked questions this rainy season: A guide for Horse Riders.
We are sharing our Top 3 Tips for when it comes to surviving this rainy season with your horses.
1. Should I stable my horse when it is raining?
There is no doubt in our minds that the best place to be on days like today, is tucked inside in our lovely warm houses; however, do our horses feel the same? The love we have for them see us want to bring them into their nice dry stables where they are safe and sound. However, it’s important to remember that sometimes a horses opinion on whether they need to be in or not may be different from ours!
Certain breeds, such as Thoroughbreds & Warmbloods will pretty much always thank you for a cosy stable, whereas hardy breeds such as Cobs & Shetlands may feel more comfortable out in their pastures. The important thing to remember is that there is a wide range of sheltering solutions to suit every horse, whether it’s an internal stable or a field shelter, you can have peace of mind that your horse or horses are getting the shelter they need.
Find out more on our Do Horses Need A Stable? Blog.
2. What heath concerns may be caused by rain?
It is not only the rain itself that can cause health problems for your horse or horses but also the conditions caused by the rain in which your horse them resides.
- Rain Rot: Rain Rot is a layman’s term for a common equine bacterial skin disease caused by Dermatophilus congolensis. Characterised by the forming of crusty scabs, which peel off along with clumps of hair and leave bare spots on the skin, rain rot, as the name would suggest, appears on parts of the body exposed to rain; often the head, neck and back.
Rain rot is something that can resolve itself if the area and environment are changed accordingly. The horse should be isolated (it is very contagious) and the infected area should be a shield from moisture whilst still allowing oxygen to reach it to encourage healing. Be sure to remove wet sheets and blankets and let your horse dry before putting on dry ones. If it appears severe or if it fails to improve veterinary advice may be needed.
- Hoof Infections: The most common form of hoof infection is Thrush. Primarily caused by Spherophorus neaophorus Fungus, Thrush is a surface fungal & bacterial infection that causes a black slime to form on and around the frog, spreading onto the sole. Thrush is only lameness causing in severe cases, but the fungus can break down sole tissue causing thinning of the soles making it more prone to bruised soles, abscessing and other hoof infections. This can then create exudate (pus), which builds up and creates pressure behind the hoof wall or sole. This pressure can become extremely painful. White Line Disease (WLD) and Deep Central Sulcus (DCS) are other forms of infection that are brought on by wet conditions that can also encourage lameness in horses.
Hoof infections can be treated and prevented by the provision of a healthy environment, away from mud, urine, and manure. Proper foot care and nutrition are essential. Trimming away dead tissue will help provide less of an environment for microbes. Proper hoof shape promotes correct wear patterns and a generally healthy hoof. A correct diet will aid healthy and rapid tissue growth.
- Mud Fever: Called Pastern Dermatitis in the veterinary world, Mud Fever categorises a range of skin reactions to various irritants. Most common in wet conditions due to the increased vulnerability to bacteria and fungus, this illness is characterised by scabs and sores on a horse’s legs and hooves. Symptoms of this nasty skin condition can be excruciating for your horse and unpleasant for you to treat. Often affecting pink-skinned areas, you may notice red, sore areas that are weeping, with lumpy patches. As with most things, prevention is better than cure, and various management techniques can be employed to prevent mud fever. An obvious solution to controlling mud fever is avoiding wet, muddy conditions. You can find more information and advice from Scott Dunn Equine Clinic.
3. Is riding in the rain OK?
Some riders enjoy a hack in pleasant rain, some try and speed up when they get caught up in the rain, whether or not to ride in rain tends to be each individual’s choice, but there are a few things to consider to ensure your and your horses safety.
New safety hazards can be brought on by rain. We all know that the ground can get slick and muddy when it rains; this makes it harder for horses to keep their balance. Not only because the footing is bad, but because they have someone sitting on their backs, your horse balance can get thrown off, causing them to slip and slide. When riding in the rain, its best to go slower, avoid sharp turns and watch the ground ahead to make sure you’re not going to run into a mud pit!
Our advice is to avoid roads when raining if possible. There is enough controversy about how riders and drivers share the road at the best of times, so throw in poor visibility and puddle splash, and you may be putting you and your horse’s safety at risk. Even with reflective gear on, a driver may not be able to see you clearly or judge distance; this teamed with the additional noises and sensations caused by rain falling and water on the roads can trigger your horses to spook.
With rain often comes wind, and can sometimes turn into lightning storms and extreme downpours. For you and your horse’s safety, it’s important to know when it is time to head back to the stables. For many yards, there is a rule that once someone sees lightning, then it is time to head back inside. Horses can become spooked in high winds or lightning, not to mention the threat of tree limbs snapping and debris flying around.