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Identifying and treating colic in horses

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Spring brings with it a feeling of renewed energy and excitement.  The cold days of winter are losing their grip and we are thrilled to be back in the barn for extended periods of time.  While the thought of the thaw is great, the thought of the mud it brings isn’t as exhilarating. Mud combined with horses can be especially messy and dangerous. Gate areas can become tricky to navigate, rings can be slippery, just getting to and from the car, house or barn can be a challenge. Deep mud can bow tendons, aggravate arthritis and even pull shoes from horses’ feet. Mud mixed with horse manure contains bacteria which can lead to issues like thrush and rain rot. 

There are a few things you can do to make the mud season a little easier on yourself.  

Just as there is proper footwear for riding, there is proper footwear for mucking and mud. The right footwear will keep you clean, warm and comfortable; the easy slip off design is especially helpful when you are covered in mud!  Now you can leave all the mess outside the door.  Additionally, mud boots are easy to clean; just hose and go.

Spring brings rain and rain brings mud. Cooler temperatures combined with rain can chill a horse in their paddock or out to pasture.  A turnout sheet is a great solution for keeping them dry and comfortable.  Most turnout sheets are made with a strong denier fabric that resists tearing and is breathable, which helps maintain the horse’s body temperature. These sheets are designed to be worn when temperatures outside are between 40 to 70 degrees.  Do you want to know another great benefit a turnout sheet? When your horse rolls in the mud, there is less of it on him or her!

Mud season presents many grooming challenges and it can take some serious elbow grease to keep your horse clean.  Shedding and layers of mud keep you busy and your horse itchy. Simple grooming tools, such as curry combs and stiff brushes, not only help to release mud and hair, but they also provide a relaxing and enjoyable experience for most horses.  A dandy brush, following a good deep curry, helps remove dirt, dander, and loose hair. Brushes with quality bristles are valuable tools in horsekeeping.  The bristles should be clean and intact, straight and stiff.  At the end of a good grooming session, use a topical sprays/coat conditioner to help keep the horse clean and easier to groom throughout the mud season.

As you are grooming, take some time to check out your horse’s feet.  Mud can suck off shoes, dry the hoof, and create a perfect environment for thrush to grow.  Thrush is a smelly bacterial infection of the hooves. It occurs when hooves come into prolonged contact with waste-laden mud. Keep your horse’s feet clean by brushing off the outside of the hoof with a stiff brush (being careful around the sensitive coronary band) and pick out their feet, being sure to get out everything around the frog. Be mindful of any strong foul odors as that might indicate infection.

The season can be a bit bothersome and put some grit in your teeth. It may seem like mud is everywhere at this time of year but don’t get overwhelmed; it can be made more comfortable with the right equipment.  

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