Whenever it rains (or pours!) where you live, you most likely have experienced swampy conditions at your stable or barn. Clearly, slopping through thick mud in your riding boots is usually not amusing or enjoyable, but muddy conditions can also cause troubles for your equine partner. Mud can sometimes severely affect your horse’s health.
Riding in thick, gummy mire is certainly not a wise idea, and you should do your best to keep off it. Deep mud can stress fragile equid legs and perhaps harm tendons and ligaments. Rain may turn the most well-groomed arena into a swampy mud pit. Whenever your arena sand becomes thick and deep when it rains, allow your horse a day off-duty. If you absolutely must ride or school your horse, stick with more slow-moving gaits so that you don’t stress your horse’s legs and joints.
Your horse is more probable to overreach with a hind leg when being ridden or schooled in deep mud, so put rubber or neoprene overreach (bell) boots on if you must ride in poor footing. Overreach boots will also aid in to keeping his shoes on.
Eventers, who ride their over cross-country fences, frequently utilise horseshoe studs, tiny pieces of metal that screw into holes in a horse’s shoe. They assist in keeping the horse’s shoe gripping the ground so that he can stay well-balanced when jumping and can also reduce slipping and sliding. It takes a lot practice to attach these studs, so don’t try them for the first time at a show and be sure to ask a farrier first.
Thick, sticky mud can also pluck off shoes, even if they’ve been shod on decently. Mud often sucks off shoes. If it gets genuinely mucky during the wintertime in your region, you could consider pulling your equine’s shoes. If you do not ride or school him and he has reasonably healthy hooves, you probably don’t require them. If you prefer to keep the shoes on, your farrier can put toe clips on them. They are a couple triangular shaped clips that help to stabilize the shoes in the correct place.
If you discover that your horse has lost his shoe, it’s a smart idea to search for it in the pasture or paddock. You do not want your own horse or one of his horsey-friends to tread on it and have to suffer a puncture wound on his hoof or lower leg; worse yet if he happens to roll on it! In addition, you can salvage some money as your farrier will likely be able to use the same shoe, rather than having your horse re-shod.
After riding or schooling in muddy conditions, it is absolutely crucial that you hose down your horse’s legs and then dry them with a fresh towel or rag. If it’s really chilly and you’d prefer not to hose him down, put him in a stall for a while until the muck on his legs dries out. Then, you can flick it off with a dandy or hard brush. Be sure to always clean out your horse’s hooves after riding in muddy conditions. Edged rocks can get lodged in sticky hooves, and rocks can cause bruises and abscesses. Dirty hooves can also harbor bacteria, such as those that cause thrush or white-line disease.
Lisa Munniksma. “Mud-Related Health Problems.” Horse Channel.