Protect Your Horses Legs With These Simple Strategies

Your horse is an important part of your life, and you want to do everything you can to keep them safe and healthy. One of the most common injuries that horses can suffer from are scratches on their legs. Scratches can be caused by a variety of things, such as running into a fence, brushing up against a tree, or even by another horse. Fortunately, there are some simple strategies you can use to protect your horses legs and help prevent scratches.

One of the best ways to protect your horses legs is to keep them well-groomed. Regularly brushing your horses legs can help remove any debris or dirt that may be stuck in their fur. This can help prevent scratches caused by debris that may be stuck to their legs. Additionally, you should also make sure to trim your horses hooves regularly. This will help keep their hooves in good condition and can help prevent scratches caused by overgrown hooves.

Another strategy you can use to protect your horses legs is to make sure they have plenty of space to move around. If your horse is kept in an enclosed area, make sure it is large enough to give them room to move and turn around. This will help prevent them from running into fences or other objects that can cause scratches. Additionally, if your horse is kept in a pasture, make sure to check the area regularly for any debris or sharp objects that could cause scratches.

Finally, you should also make sure to inspect your horses legs regularly for any signs of scratches. If you notice any scratches, make sure to take care of them right away. This will help prevent them from becoming infected and will help keep your horses legs healthy.

By following these simple strategies, you can help protect your horses legs from scratches and keep them healthy.

4 Stable Management Practices to Prevent Scratches

Scratches are a difficult fungal or bacterial of the skin, most often seen on a horse’s fetlocks. It occurs when bacteria and fungi find their way into openings in the horse’s skin, developing into lesions that spread and worsen over time. The good news is that with some adjustments to your stable management routine, you can create the right environment to prevent scratches and help manage active cases.

1. Provide a Dry Environment

Scratches thrives in wet unsanitary conditions. Providing a dry environment may sound as simple as keeping your horse inside when it rains, but it’s a little more difficult than that.

Cold, frosty mornings and dewy summer sunrises both create wet conditions that weaken your horse’s natural defenses against bacteria and fungi. Moisture collected on blades of grass is easily transferred to your horse’s lower legs. Your horse could be standing in wet grass for hours until it dries, particularly if they’re turned out overnight.

Keeping your horse inside can also be harmful if stalls are not cleaned thoroughly or often. Standing in urine causes a wide variety of . If your horse lays down in the soaked shavings, bacteria-filled moisture is pressed closed to your horse’s legs and against their skin. This unsanitary and wet environment allows scratches to grow on your horse’s fetlocks.

2. Develop Good Grooming Practices

In some barns, it’s common practice to share equipment between horses. Swapping a saddle pad, borrowing a brush, or using someone else’s tendon boots sounds harmless enough. But in reality, you’re transferring bacteria and microscopic fungi spores from one horse to another via their tack. This allows the bacteria and fungi that cause scratches to like wildfire.

You don’t have to borrow someone else’s brush to create an unhygienic grooming environment. The bristles of brushes trap bacteria and many equestrians go years without washing them!

Brushing your horse with a dirty brush allows bacteria to enter small abrasions in the skin, leading to scratches and other skin conditions.

Long feathers and winter coats create the perfect environment for scratches on your horse’s fetlocks. Hairy legs trap moisture and fungi close to the skin, take longer to dry, and inhibit airflow. This problem is exacerbated when riders wash their horses legs often. It’s tempting to wash your horse’s legs more than necessary, particularly if you have a grey or light colored horse. But, overbathing your horse’s legs strips the skin of its natural protective oils, as well as creating an artificially wet environment. This paves the way for fungi to develop on the waterlogged and weakened skin, allowing for scratches to develop.

3. Prevention is the Best Medicine

Once it gets going, scratches can be a difficult infection to beat. Over time, the occasional bald spot or tuft of hair turns into open lesions, oozing sores, and swelling. If left untreated for too long, your horse can actually go lame. is key to a full and fast recovery.

In its early stages, scratches can be hard to notice. The small bald patches or tufts of hair could easily be from playing too hard in the pasture. But once the lesions start to develop and the bald spots spread upwards, you have a serious condition that can take time to heal. If you notice that you have an active scratches infection, remember Picking at the lesions further compromises the skin and creates more openings for fungi to enter. Instead, carefully clip and clean the area, before drying it thoroughly.

Healthy skin is the best defense against scratches. A strong dermal barrier prevents fungi from growing and spreading. The natural oils of the coat repel water, preventing the skin from becoming waterlogged and weak.

You can promote skin in your horse with a good diet, appropriate grooming/bathing routine, and protection from sun and insects. Using the right products that moisturize and protect the skin instead of dry it out, is also important.

Veterinarians and horse owners alike have used to manage scratches on a horse’s fetlocks and lower legs. Our novel technology provides sustained delivery of orthosilicic acid to the skin, which is associated with healthy connective tissue growth. Applying Zarasyl just once or twice daily can help to manage an active scratches infection.


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Fact Or Fiction: Setting The Record Straight On Scratches (Views: 24367)

Sale Spotlight

Equine pastern dermatitis—better known as scratches—is a condition most horse owners and grooms will battle at some point, whether they care for backyard ponies or million-dollar equines. The crusty scabs may start as a minor annoyance, but if left untreated they can lead to swelling, inflammation and lameness, or even become a chronic condition.

Nimet Browne, DVM, DACVIM, an internal medicine specialist at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, wrote a paper on common equine skin conditions for the American Association of Equine Practitioners Spur Of The Moment news bulletin in 2018. She answered some frequently asked questions about equine pasture dermatitis and its cure.

Scratches is a term used to describe the effects of a skin infection caused by microbes that thrive in wet, dirty conditions. It’s commonly assumed to be a fungal infection, but Browne said that’s not entirely correct.

“Although fungus can play a role in scratches, the primary concern and the most common cause of scratches is bacterial,” she said. “Typically we don’t know exactly what causes [scratches.] In general, it’s multifactorial in nature, so what causes it isn’t necessarily the thing that perpetuates it. Often we see something like a bacterial infection that is allowed to set up because of a break in the skin barrier, and then maybe in addition there’s a fungal component. Sometimes we can localize it to a certain bacteria or fungal infection, but it has a pretty classic appearance of reddening, scaling, sometimes even oozing.”

Any horse exposed to wet, dirty conditions like muddy turnout is at risk, but there are some additional factors that may make a horse more likely to develop scratches.

“We don’t know for sure that there’s a genetic component, but the horses that get the most severe form of scratches like the draft breeds or breeds that have feathers on their pasterns and fetlocks seem to be predisposed,” Browne said.

Trauma can also increase a horse’s chances of developing scratches. Any break in the skin around the fetlocks or pasterns, whether it’s a rub from a bell boot or a nick from clippers, makes it easier for bacteria to invade. White legs or legs with large white makings also seem more susceptible

Most cases of scratches resolve if you can remove the horse from the wet environment and keep its legs clean and dry, but there are also topical options. When purchasing over-the-counter products to treat scratches, Brown suggested looking for a few key ingredients.

“Because there’s not always one cause, we do look for a treatment that’s a multi-pronged approach with antibacterials, antifungals and anti-inflammatories as well,” she said. “So an antibacterial, like Betadine, then maybe an antifungal, which usually has ‘azole’ at the end, tends to be the most efficacious. Some topical ointments or shampoos also have anti-inflammatory properties – either a steroid or an antihistamine. Something to help wick water away helps too, like petroleum jelly. We have some evidence that giving Omega 3 fatty acids can help with any skin disease. [Omega 3 fatty acids are in] a lot of supplements these days and can be beneficial for their anti-inflammatory properties and improve the overall dermatologic health of the horse.”

Some cases of scratches do require antibiotics or additional veterinary intervention. The condition can be painful and may cause significant swelling or lameness. Browne advised that if the condition gets worse with treatment, or if the horse exhibits other signs of illness such as fever or lethargy, or develops lesions on other parts of its body, it’s time to call a professional. A veterinarian’s response will differ based on the severity and underlying cause.

“We look for the underlying factors: skin mites, bacteria, fungal infection,” said Browne. “And we’d do a skin scrape looking for the infectious causes, then treat those directly with antibiotics or antifungals. If we don’t find any of those, the best treatment is the same as what the owner can do – a clean, dry environment with topical treatments.”

“It’s a double-edged sword, because removing hair from the legs does make it easier to keep the area clean and dry, especially if your horse has feathers,” Browne said. “The other side of that is we want to be careful not to damage the skin’s surface. The skin – when it’s intact – has a lot of protective measures against infection. If we break that we can actually set up horses to develop scratches.”

Browne suggested washing a horse’s legs as often as daily to keep them clean. If a horse is affected by scratches, a shampoo with antibacterial or antifungal properties might help speed healing, but the most important thing is to dry the legs completely after bathing. This is especially important if the horse will go into a stall after a bath, or have any kind of boot or wrap put on that might trap moisture close to the skin.

Browne advised only removing scabs that are already falling off or come off with normal cleaning.

“Don’t scrub until it’s bleeding,” she said. “But if you’re washing with a glove or mitt, taking off anything that comes easily and doesn’t cause pain or irritation to the horse is appropriate. The more debris in the area, the more bacteria, fungi or dirt can stay there. The goal is to get that off to treat the underlying problem.”

United States Eventing Association

Top 10 Tips for Keeping Your White Horse White with Rachael Livermore

We all work hard to get our horses shiny and clean for competition day, but it can sometimes take a bit of extra elbow grease to get those grey or white horses looking their best. Rachael Livermore, head groom for Sharon White at Last Frontier Farm, shares some of the tricks she uses to get Sharon’s horses looking spick and span – and it starts with everyday care!

The United States Eventing Association (USEA) is excited to announce that the Intercollegiate Eventing Championship will be hosted at the in Mill Spring, North Carolina, on May 26–28, 2023. The organizers at TIEC look forward to welcoming the Intercollegiate Teams to their state-of-the-art venue this spring for a successful championship event.

The United States Eventing Association (USEA), which was founded in September 1959, is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization committed to providing eventing enthusiasts with a competitive level suited to their individual skills. By assisting and educating competitors, event organizers, and officials; maintaining responsible safety standards; and registering qualified competitions and clinics, the USEA offers strong and continuous training opportunities for an ever-expanding field of world-class competitors. Just as importantly, the USEA provides a means for all riders, regardless of age or ability, to experience the thrill of eventing.

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What You Need to Know About Scratches

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If your horse develops scratches, then knowing how to recognize and treat the condition can help to get him feeling better soon. Even more importantly, though, understanding how to prevent scratches from developing in the first place can help to keep your horse healthy. Here’s what you need to know about this condition and why you see it so often in the spring.

Scratches, , greasy heel, and cracked heels – it’s all the same. Your vet may even refer to it as pastern dermatitis. No matter what you call it, here’s what you should know about and preventing scratches.

Symptoms of Scratches

According to , scratches is a skin condition that can be bacterial, fungal, or parasitic. Bacteria and fungi enter through breaks in your horse’s skin by his fetlocks and heels. As the condition develops, the skin can become inflamed, scabby, and crusty. Sometimes, you might notice that the skin oozes a clear or liquid fluid.

How to Treat Scratches

Purdue University recommends that you start by clipping the infected area, but make sure that you don’t scrape the skin as you do this. Once you’ve clipped the area, use an antibacterial or antifungal shampoo to gently wash the skin. Let the shampoo sit for about 10 minutes, then gently rinse it off.

Once you’ve rinsed the area, you can gently massage off any loose scabs. Pat the area dry with a towel and apply the topical ointment that your vet recommends.

You’ll need to repeat the process once a day for the first 7 to 10 days, then perform the washing just two or three times a week. While your horse’s skin is dry, you can apply the zinc-oxide cream, Desitin, to the scabs to help soften them.

As your horse heals, he’ll need to be kept in an area that is both clean and dry. That means that you’ll need to keep him away from wet pastures and mud. Provide plenty of clean, dry bedding and clean the stall frequently.

It’s a good idea to have your vet out to examine your horse, especially in the case of a bad infection. Depending on the severity of your horse’s scratches, your vet might prescribe topical medications or even administer antibiotics.

Why Horses Get Scratches

Horses can develop scratches for any number of reasons, but one of the main causes is frequent wetting and drying of the skin. If your horse is out in a , the mud saturating his skin and then repeatedly drying can cause irritation, leading to those cracks that the bacteria and fungus travels through.

Horses that have heavy feathering on their legs, like draft horses, can be more prone to developing scratches because the feathering traps in moisture.

Other potential causes include anything that might irritate your horse’s legs, like ill-fitting bell boots or leg boots.

How to Prevent Scratches in Horses

You can help to reduce the chances of your horse developing scratches by keeping his environment as dry as possible. If you experience heavy, frequent spring rains, your pasture might be more muddy than usual. Try to turn your horse out in a drier pasture, or take steps to address the mud.

Installing Lighthoof panels in your problem muddy areas can help to keep your horse up, out of the mud. These panels act as a stable surface, even when the ground is saturated. You can in your horse’s run, under the gates of your paddocks where mud always seems to form, and anywhere else where mud is an issue.

Reducing the mud on your farm won’t mean that your horse will never get scratches, but it may help to reduce the chance of that happening. If your horse does develop scratches, having a dry, mud-free paddock where you can turn him out can help to support his recovery from this irritating skin condition.

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MSU Extension

Scratches, also known as mud fever, will present seasonal challenges for some Michigan horse owners.

While spring may officially be a few weeks off, it’s never too early to think about the potential issues that come with managing Michigan horses when March and April roll around. When the temperatures do finally warm up this year there will be large amounts of mud to deal with thanks to the large amount of snow we’ve had. With muddy, wet conditions, encourages owners to watch for on their horses legs and feet.

Found on the lower limbs of horses kept in moist environments, scratches is also known as mud fever or greasy heel. It is likely that the excessive moisture causes the skin to be compromised, as with other conditions such as . It is likely that the weakened skin – combined with unsanitary conditions allows for the entry of viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites – lead to the onset of scratches and is not caused by a specific organism, but rather is a set of symptoms. These symptoms include flaky, irritated and inflamed skin often with chronic, oozing scabs present.

Treatment of scratches involves keeping the horses legs as clean and dry as possible. Clipping the hair around the infected area and carefully washing with an antibacterial soap is effective, but scabs may be painful so always use caution when working around the horse’s feet and legs. An antibiotic ointment or spray may also assist in healing, however, some heavy creams may repel moisture and attract dirt, further compounding the problem. Horse Teaching and Research Center Manager Paula Hitzler suggests using a mixture of Desitin and betadine. For really bad sratches, add dexamethazone to the salve. She also suggests using Panalog. In very serious cases that do not respond to treatment, a veterinarian should be consulted because oral antibiotics or other forms of treatment may be may be required.

As with many other skin conditions in horses, those with white legs seem more susceptible to scratches, as do those with feathers on the lower limbs. Some horses just seem to be more prone to scratches as well, but ultimately, a clean and dry environment will keep it from reoccurring.

This article was published by . For more information, visit . To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit . To contact an expert in your area, visit , or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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