Top Tips on Mud Fever – Prevention and The Cure

Top Tips on Mud Fever – Prevention and The Cure

As winter creeps closer and closer, many horse owners will be faced with their horse’s suffering from the dreaded symptoms of Mud Fever.

Mud fever in horses is a problem that many horse owners fear, severe mud fever can be so debilitating meaning horses can even be lame as a result. Equilibrium Products is a leader in equine products that support horse care and wellbeing. So, we thought we’d get their expert opinion on the condition.

What is Mud Fever?

Mud fever or Pastern Dermatitis as many veterinarians would call it, is by far the most common skin condition seen in horses and ponies, especially during the winter months. Mud Fever has become a common problem for many horse owners, however just because it has become a regular site doesn’t mean that it should be taken any less seriously. Many owners say that their horse or pony has a touch of Mud Fever without realising how virulent a touch of Mud Fever can be.


Mud fever generally arises during winter and early spring, causing painful sores and scabs. It requires moisture to become established, which is why it is often called “Mud Fever”.  However, it can be seen during the summer months, due to the early morning dew, followed by hot sun. Although mud fever usually affects the pastern and heel area, it can also affect the upper legs and belly. Severe mud fever can cause lameness and in some cases, mud fever can affect the neck and back area and is also known as Rain Scald.

What Causes Mud Fever?

Under normal circumstances the skin acts as a protective barrier, preventing the bacterium from entering the horse’s system and doing any damage. However, the integrity of the skin can become compromised through the abrasion of soil and grit on cold, wet skin. The continual wetting of the skin causes a breakdown of the protective barrier of the epidermis, allowing the bacterium to enter and do its worst. Mud fever is caused by the bacteria Dermatophilus Congolensis. 


Did you know?

Whilst referred to as Mud Fever, horses can get the condition without standing in mud too!

How to prevent Mud Fever?

Equilibrium Products recommends:

Good Paddock Management – As soon as the paddocks start to become wet and muddy, take preventive action. If possible, rotate your paddocks to avoid horses having to stand in wet, muddy ground. Use electric fencing to prevent horses from standing for long periods of time in the deep mud that collects in high traffic areas and, if possible, put good quality hardcore in the gateway areas. You can also add protective grass mats that allow grass to grow without it creating mud, however, this needs to be laid before the wet, muddy weather!

Grooming – Avoid hosing down the horse’s legs. It is generally better to allow the mud to dry and then gently brush off with a soft bristled brush.

Care Products – There are products available to help protect the skin from the constant wet. Protective barrier creams applied to the horse’s legs before turn out help protect the skin from the constant wet for a limited period of time, but they do tend to gradually wear off. They also have the drawback that your horses’ legs remain covered in mud when they come in from the field.

Protective turnout boots will help to keep legs clean, dry and mud-free.

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If you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below.

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