Most horses are likely to look forward to their time out in the field, where they are free to stretch their legs and forage for grass. At Houghton Country we stock everything you need to keep your horse comfortable, safe and protected from the risks that turnout poses, from grazing muzzles to limit grass intake, to mud fever prevention and treatment.
Turnout in a field or paddock is a significant part of a lot of horses’ daily routines, allowing them to stretch their legs, have a roll and graze freely. Some horses have their turnout limited while others live out 24/7, while many horses’ routines may change depending on the time of year, the weather and amount of grass available. Turnout is mentally beneficial to horses and gives them the opportunity to move around and forage, but it does bring its own risks regarding problems related to grass intake, such as unwanted weight gain and the increased risk of laminitis, and issues related to consistent exposure to wet mud in the winter, such as mud fever, rain scald and poor hoof health.
Despite these risks associated with turnout, there are measures that are easy to put in place to ensure the horse’s wellbeing during their time in the field, minimising the risks associated with excess grass or wet mud. Whether you are concerned about laminitis in summer or looking to prevent or treat mud fever in winter, we stock everything you’ll need to keep your horse happy and healthy during their turnout, from grazing muzzles to mud barrier creams.
Does my horse need to wear a grazing muzzle?
A grazing muzzle restricts the amount of grass your horse can eat, meaning they are able to enjoy longer periods of time out in the field without the risks associated with eating too much grass, which include unwanted weight gain and the onset of laminitis. Some horses are more prone to grass-induced laminitis than others – native breeds or those who have had a history of laminitis are more likely to develop laminitis than fit, lean horses. Most owners choose to muzzle in the summer months when the grass is at its richest in sugar, and there usually isn’t any need in the winter months. A muzzle can be worn for a significant proportion of the week or day, depending on how much turnout the horse gets, but it is not advisable to have the muzzle on the horse 24/7, as this increases the risk of rubs caused by the muzzle and can cause the horse mental distress. If your horse is overweight or prone to laminitis or puts weight on easily, you may want to consider using a grazing muzzle. To find out more about laminitis including what causes the condition and how to manage it, read our Everything you need to know about laminitis in horses guide.
What is mud fever in horses?
Mud fever is not actually a fever, but a skin condition that is notoriously difficult to get rid of, where the skin becomes inflamed and sore due to bacteria that develops in consistently damp environments. The skin will become dry and scabs are likely to develop, and you may see hair loss. When these symptoms are found elsewhere on the body such as the back, they are referred to as rain scald. Severe cases of mud fever can present with swelling to the lower limbs and/or lameness. Horses with pink skin, i.e. white socks, on their legs are generally more susceptible. Prevention is better than cure where mud fever is concerned, and protecting the horse’s legs from the wet in the first place is a more effective way of managing mud fever in comparison with treating the inflammation once it has set in.
How do you prevent mud fever?
There are several ways to prevent mud fever setting in. Some owners find that putting boots on the horse to keep the legs dry and mud-free works well, and mud socks or mud boots are a good investment. It is crucial that these are fitted well to the horse’s legs, as if any damp is allowed to get inside it will not dry easily, meaning the bacteria associated with mud fever will grow more easily than if the legs were uncovered. Barrier creams applied to the pastern, heel and fetlock repel the wet and prevent mud from making contact with the skin, helping to prevent mud fever. If mud fever has already set in, there are scrubs available to treat the scabs, and barrier cream and/or powder can then be applied to help the skin underneath to heal.
What is a fieldsafe headcollar?
A fieldsafe headcollar is a headcollar that can be safely worn during turnout if you need to leave a headcollar on - for example over the top of a fly mask or on a horse that may not want to be caught. It is not safe to leave a horse turned out in an ordinary headcollar, as the headcollar can become caught up on a fence or tree, or even with the horse’s legs after rolling or scratching themselves. Ordinary headcollars are not guaranteed to come loose when under pressure such as in the instance of a horse’s leg becoming caught, whereas a fieldsafe headcollar is designed for this purpose. A fieldsafe headcollar fastens with Velcro fastenings which easily come undone under pressure, meaning the likelihood of the horse becoming caught on anything is reduced significantly.
Turning your horse out into a field or paddock is good for their wellbeing, but careful management of your horse during this time is important to reduce the risk of problems associated with turnout, such as laminitis and mud fever or rain scald. At Houghton Country we are all horse owners with a range of experiences of conditions such as these, and so we have hand-picked our favourite prevention and treatment remedies to help your horse be able to have as much turnout as you wish. Looking for a rug to keep your horse warm during turnout? Browse our Turnout Rugs here.