Muddy matters…

By Dr Keith Foster

Winter and spring time in the UK in recent years have brought with them very wet weather, meaning that our yards and fields have been incredibly muddy. For some horse owners, this has left them struggling with skin conditions as a result. The most common mud-related condition is pastern dermatitis, or mud fever, which causes painful skin irritation and infected sores that can cause swelling in the limb and lameness.

Horse in muddy field
The bacteria which typically cause skin conditions are Dermatophilus congolensis, Staphylococci or Streptococci, and these bacteriums reside in soil, becoming active in wet weather.

They enter the body through small cuts to the skin – which commonly occur in winter and spring time as a result of windy, rainy weather softening the skin.

Once the bacteria is within the body, it can cause infection, leading to painful sores and scabs developing, typically on the lower limbs of the horse.


Try and keep exposure to wet, muddy conditions to a minimum – reduce turn out time if your field is particularly boggy, and consider placing hardcore or wood chip in the field gateway to absorb water. Overall, it is important to keep the skin as clean and dry as possible. All sand, soil and gritty debris should be removed on a daily basis, but after removing this dirt, the legs should be dried thoroughly to avoid the skin becoming softened and the risk of the breaking of the skin creating an entry point for the bacteria.

muddy gateway horse


The treatment of mud fever begins with washing of the affected area with an antibacterial shampoo or mild antiseptic solution to remove the scabby crusts.

The horse or pony’s leg must then be dried thoroughly with a clean towel and once dry, excess or long hair should be clipped away around the lesion and a topical treatment applied.


If you are unsure about how to manage mud-fever, contact your vet, but if you don’t need veterinary assistance, there are many topical mud fever products available off the shelf that include beneficial healing ingredients.

Black Tac from Fine Fettle Products is designed to be used on the heels and frog to help maintain skin health and stop hoof wall cracks, alongside acting as an excellent dressing to target mud fever.


Containing high quality honey and the charcoal molecule C60 fullerene, this totally natural product sticks to anything, and thus forms a protective barrier, keeping the skin dry and supple whilst supporting the natural healing process from conditions such as mud fever.

Find out more by visiting the website

Leave a Reply