Find out how damp wet conditions can affect your horse at  any time of year!

Rain and damp conditions affect our horses throughout the year, so don't be mis led that it happens just through the winter months.
Rainfall and lots of it can happen at any time in the UK, spring, summer, autumn and winter and if we don't think about the impact it has on our horses, then it can create problems that can be avoided.
standing water 
We need to remember when there has been heavy rain falls there is normally a lot of standing water around and with fresh rain falling all the time, it doesn't get a chance to drain away.

Mosquito's thrive in these wet conditions and our horses will be the ones suffering as the larvae begin to hatch out.

The peaceful, relaxed sight of a group of horses standing nose to tail idly swishing away flies on a sunny spring or summer's day ,can soon become a distant memory as they struggle with extra water, mud and on going damp conditions at any time of year.  

Insects are attracted to the smell of sweat, excrement and breath so rinse your horse well after exercise and cover him liberally with an insect repellent. This will effectively 'blind' the flies to your horse's presence. Poo picking the paddocks regularly and having your muck heap taken away will also make a big difference.

In the last couple of years and due to the extreme climate during both spring and summer, many of us are still having to use ourr winter rugs, one minute they are on, the next they are off. As we've said before on - always rug according to the weather - which can be a challenge, when it's driving rain one minute, chilly the next and then suddenly our horses are bathed in brilliant warm sunshine. It is easy to forget that horses are actually waterproof and they will not thank you for rugging them up to the point where they are sweating and uncomfortable, however, the lightweight rain sheet's are ideal for these conditions. 

During the warmer months, sun bleaching can occur on our horses, it causes the coats to lighten in colour and give a 'crispy' effect.  Areas where the skin is repeatedly prone to sweating and being washed off, such as the saddle area and neck are particularly vulnerable. This does not harm your horses, however it is frowned upon in the show ring which is why so many show horses are kept rugged from head to tail during the summer season. 
Warm damp weather and frequent showers make the perfect environment for rain scald to develop, as shown here.  
Seen principally along the saddle area and loins, rain scald - or dermatophilus congolensis -first shows itself as tufted, matted hair and scabs.
These will pick off to reveal bare skin and although the area may be sore they do not itch.
Bathe the affected area daily with an antiseptic scrub and dry thoroughly, this will help and eventually clear the condition; however in serious cases consult your vet who may prescribe antibiotics. If left untreated other organisms can invade the affected skin causing dermatitis, which is very uncomfortable for the horse.  
Although all horses carry the bacteria to develop this, most healthy well nourished animals will not be affected.   
six mud_fever_pics
Something you don't expect to be blighted with in the warmer months is mud fever; this is a skin infection mainly seen in the heels and pasterns after they have been repeatedly exposed to wet muddy conditions.

Scabs and lesions appear which if left untreated can spread further up the horses legs.
The affected areas are very painful and in extreme cases will cause lameness so be vigilant whilst grooming and liberally apply a barrier cream or gel on clean dry heels to provide a shield against further infection. 

The good news is that grass paddocks - where not knee deep in mud and water - are growing like mad.  Forage is lush and plentiful so keep a close eye on your horses' weight and if necessary erect temporary fencing within the field to restrict their grazing.
This practice has the additional benefits of preserving extra grass for later in the year when we will, no doubt, be in a drought!.

More horse care advice and tips for horses out in the field Read more