Horses are naturally born out in the wild and adapt to everything mother nature has to throw at them. Rain, hail or shine they have natural instincts to escape harsh weather conditions. Wild horses may escape the weather by simply standing under a tree! How many of you have been sitting in your warm home drinking a hot cup of tea thinking is my horse ok in the rain? I know I have many times! I am here to tell you that they are not bothered by the rain as much as we think that they are.
Shelter is important for a horse to have access to while it is raining. They might have one and choose not to use it however if they ever feel the need to seek some shelter they have the option to. If you don't have a nice comfortable stable do not be worried, a simple lean-to roof or trees can be enough to escape the wet weather.
After it has been raining for a long period of time the ground can get very wet and muddy! If a horse is standing in muddy conditions for too long they can start to get hoof problems such as hoof rot and abscesses. Skin conditions can also occur. Rain scald or rain rot is a very common problem. Nutrition is another concept to consider because the horses may not have access to grass if stabled and nutrients in the grass can be deficient if on pasture.
1. Hoof care
If wet weather persists and the ground your horse is on is wet and muddy it is important that you are looking after their feet appropriately. Feet can soften by standing in water. Have you ever noticed your own fingernails after a shower or a pool, they are very soft. Just like our own nails horse's hooves can become soft and weak. If shod their feet won't wear down as fast so excessive hoof growth can occur. As well, the chance of loosing a shoe in the mud is higher than being on hard ground, so checking for nails left in the hoof or simply a lose shoe is important to prevent infections. Boots can also be put on if your horse is susceptible to soft frogs. These do however need to be changed and cleaned daily, A simple tip is also to remove any thick mud that may be building up around their feet and legs. This can be done by hosing the legs down. If mud builds up on the legs then the horse may get a hoof infection or be off balanced trying to walk around with platform mud heels!
If there is ever any feet concerns after wet weather where you might find your horse lame it is important to contact your farrier.
2. Skin Care
Looking after a horse's coat is also important after wet weather conditions. In my personal experience I believe that in very wet conditions horses are better off not being rugged. If stabled and out of the rain having a rug on is fine however I believe that moisture and heat do not mix. If a horse is standing out in the rain for a long period of time where it may rain then stop the horse does not have the ability to dry off quickly and heat can stay trapped under the rug. What I have explained above is mainly dealing with horses in more hot and humid climates like those in North Queensland. Don't worry, I do believe in waterproof and warm rugs for colder climates! One common condition that can occur is rain scald. This is a skin infection that can create puss and scabs on the skin which removes hair to expose raw and sore skin. Some horses are more susceptible to rain scald than others. Heavy rainfall and humid climates is a perfect environment for the fungal infection to develop. So what is some ways of preventing rain scald?
- Making sure that there is no mud building up on the skin
- If rugged keeping the skin dry and cool- stabled is preferred
- Washing your horse once the rain finishes with a medicated shampoo to prevent infections and keeping the skin clean
- Removing any scabs if any
-Wash any rugs to make sure dirt is not building up on the rugs.
TIP: To remove scabs and loosen any dirt over the areas with rain scald baby oil is the best product to use. Simply apply it on the area once the horse has been washed. Next time you brush the horse the dirt will simply fall out!
To ensure your horse does not loose condition over the rainy season we need to make sure that the horse is getting enough nutrients in it's feed. If a horse is out on pasture you may find they can drop condition. This is because the grass lacks the essential components horses need for protein and energy. With the reduced amount of sun light photosynthesis lacks which reduces the amount of starches and sugars in the grass. Supplemented feed like a pellet would be beneficial just to increase nutrients over these times. If stabled fiber is a must! It is important to make sure the horse has enough hay due to their inability to graze . Fiber is one of the most important components for a horse's diet in my opinion because fiber reduces the risk of acid building up in the stomach potentially resulting in ulcers.
These three simple things are important to consider when your horse is in wet weather conditions. Hoof care, skin care and nutrition can maintain your horse's overall health and mental state. Even if they may be getting a little bored at least they won't be feeling uncomfortable!
Before getting started with riding again it may also be a good option to get some body work done such as a massage or even some Bowen therapy. Your horse may be tight from standing in a stable for a long period of time or strained a muscle from slipping over in the mud. It is important to start your riding routine off with no tightness to enhance your riding sessions,
If your located in the Whitsunday's region please contact me for a treatment!!