Which Clip Is Best For Your Horse?

Which Clip Is Best For Your Horse?

It’s getting to that time of year again where we start to think about clipping our horses. Before clipping your horse it is important to understand if and why clipping is a good option for your horse, how to correctly clip and what type of clip best suits your horses’ needs. Carrying on from our clipping blog in December, we will now focus on the different clips that you can use.

Points  to consider before you clip your horse

Before deciding on the type of clip, there are a few factors that you need to consider, which will help you decide what type of clip best suits your horse. Will you be keeping your horse in a stable or will they be turned out? This can help you decide what rugs to put on your horse after clipping and the amount of hair that will be clipped. What sort of work load will your horse be undertaking? Horses in heavy work tend to be fully clipped, whereas horses in light to medium work may be kept unclipped or have a small clip like trace or blanket.

It’s good to know what rugs you are going to be using. For example, if you give your horse a full clip, you won’t want to keep him in a lightweight stable rug, you would want him in a heavyweight rug, or use layers to keep him warm. Its all in the planning! If you know how much your horse sweats, you can decide if a big clip is needed, or if they could cope with a bib or blanket clip. Its also important to know how you horse responds to be being clipped. If they are nervous or don’t like being clipped, take your time, don’t rush and give them plenty of reassurance.

With these points in mind, we can now look at the different clips that you can give your horse:

1. Full Clip

A full clip involves clipping all your horses hair. This type of clip is usually for horses in heavy and regular work, like competition horses. It ensures that the horse dries out quickly after strenuous work. With this type of clip it is advised that they do not get turned out during the night, unless they are heavily rugged and have leg bandages to keep their legs warm.

 2. The Hunter Clip

The Hunter clip is another clip for horses in heavy to medium work, like the name suggests, it is mostly used for hunters. The horse is clipped except for their legs (hairy legs protect the skin from water and mud), and the saddle area, where the coat helps protect the back from the saddle. Again, the horse will be loosing a lot of their coat, which means rugging is essential.

3. The Blanket Clip

Image result for blanket clip on horse

The Blanket Clip is recommended for horses that are in medium work, and once again, the hair is left on the legs for warmth and protection. The area where an exercise sheet would be is left unclipped, which means your horse won’t get too hot while being worked. This type of clip is good for horses that can’t have a hunter or full clip if they live on grass 24/7.

4. The Bib Clip

A Bib Clip is the most simple of all the clips. It just takes off hair from the front of the neck and chest. With this clip, some people also carry on the clip under the belly to the girth line. This clip is perfect for horses in light work and horses that are turned out during the winter months.

5. The Trace clip

The Trace Clip is actually two clips in one, the high and the low trace clip. The coat is removed from the underside of the belly and the chest and neck. The hair is left on the legs for protection once again. To provide more warmth and protection, the head hair is left on for this clip. This clip is suited for horses in medium work and that are turned out during the day (once again, with rugs on).

6. Chaser Clip

The Chaser Clip is not too dissimilar to the blanket clip. With a chaser clip, hair is left on the neck, to ensure neck muscles stay warm. Again, this clip is ideal for horses in medium work and who are turned out during the day.

7. The Irish Clip

The Irish Clip is a very straight forward clip to do, which makes it ideal for young horses that may not yet be used to the clippers. Its also great for horses in light work. With this clip, hair is removed from the areas that the horse will sweat the most from (neck and armpits) This means that sweating will be reduced but the horse will still be warm in the most important places.

So there you have it, the most common clips that you may see around this winter. But as always, all horses are different and need to be clipped to meet their own needs.

If you want some more information about clips and also the actual art of clipping, have a look at this video of Mark King and her former groom clipping one of their horses: Mary King Clipping Masterclass

Biosecurity: How to protect your horse and yard from disease.

Biosecurity: How to protect your horse and yard from disease.

Every horse owner strives to protect their horses from injury and disease at all costs. But sometimes this is not always possible, but there are many things that can be done in yards to keep disease at bay. Ensuring you have good biosecurity measures and procedures in place will ensure you horse stays safe and well. World Horse Welfare have produced a brilliant information pack about biosecurity in yards, and this blog will provide you with the key information you need to protect your horse and yard.

How is disease spread?

Disease in horses is spread by many different methods, some of which include direct contact between horses, direct contact with other animals, waste products,biting insects, bodily fluids, dirty equipment, mare to foal, contaminated feed and water, vehicles, clothing and boots.

What are the best ways to prevent disease?

– Basic awareness of how disease spreads

– Maintaining good hygiene practices at all times (hand washing, cleaning utensils)

– Regular health checks on your horse (temperature, pulse and respirations, worming programmes and egg counts)

– Keeping a health record of all horses on the yard that anyone can access in case of emergency.

– Isolating a horse that is showing signs of illness (especially symptoms such as runny nose, coughing an elevated TPR readings)

What happens when a new horse comes to your yard?

In an ideal world, you would have access to the new horses health records, passport and paperwork to ensure they have not been in contact with any contagious viruses or diseases, that they are up to date with vaccines and worming. When the horse first arrives, it should ideally be isolated from the other horses for up to 21 days, which will ensure they are clear of any infection or disease, without posing a rick to the other horses on the yard.

What do you do if you suspect a horse is ill?

The most important part of dealing with a potentially ill horse is to remain calm and to ensure it is dealt with swiftly, especially if a contagious disease is suspected. Again, in a perfect world, every yard will have a isolation stable, that is away from the normal yard. Each isolation stable should have its own tools, utensils, muck heap, a dedicated person who deals only with that one horse (to prevent spread of disease), foot baths and overalls.

If you suspect a horse has a disease, isolate the horse as immediately and call the vet to make them aware of the situation. Follow veterinary advice on how to care for the ill horse. Ensure only one (or two people if needed) take care of the isolated horse. It should have its own utensils, tools, feed buckets, bedding and muck heap. Ensure the same person deals with the horse during treatment and recovery, to minimise the chance of spreading the disease. Having one key person to care for the horse also ensures that they know how the horse is progressing and they can notice any subtle changes.

It is important to monitor the horses health during its illness, by taking temperature, pulse and respiration offetern and noting down any changes. The horse should be kept in isolation until the horse is clear of all symptoms and has been visited by the vet and given a clean bill of health.

If you have an outbreak of a contagious disease, do you have to let anyone else know?

If your vet confirms the presence of a contagious equine disease, they will instruct you to notify other local yards of the outbreak. This is to ensure that no other horses are exposed to this disease. Competitions, transporting horses, moving horse to different yards, lessons at riding schools or turn out may all have to cease until the yard is clear of the disease.

What are the most likely diseases to be seen at yards in the UK?

– Strangles

– Equine Influenza

– Tetanus

– Equine Herpes Virus

– Ringworm

– Salmonellosis


If your suspect a horse on your yard is ill, isolate them as soon as is possible and phone your vet and follow their advice!


The Older horse – To Ride or not to Ride?

The majority of older horses have been with there owners for a number of years. After developing a strong partnership in and out of the saddle, it can be hard to decide when to start the road to retirement for your horse. But when can you really define your horse as old? All horses will individually age differently, and some horses may appear “old” at a much younger age and be able to cope with less than others. Each individual horse will also adjust to retirement in their own way. Some may settle easily into a quieter life than others when gradually introduced.

At first a horse may seem to welcome the break in work and not having to earn his keep any more, but signs such as weight loss and lethargic behaviour could indicate that he is no longer mentally and physically stimulated enough. Knowing your horse’s personality is the best way to assess his behaviour and happiness. If the horse is sound enough, he may appreciate a few quite rides or hacks to introduce variety back into his day to day life. There are alternatives if your horse is not physically able to ride out any more, such as gentle walks in hand and teaching new tricks. These could include pushing gates open or general limb movements, such as lifting the front legs when commanded, to help keep joint mobility lose.


If you are unsure about the best route for your horse, vets will always provide guidance and perform regular health checks for you if you require. Use their knowledge and other professionals, such as nutritionists to provide you with the top of the industry knowledge.

  • Things to consider before deciding the best route:
  • Is the horse sound? Many older horses with equine metabolic syndrome or equine Cushing’s disease, for example, develop secondary laminitis, which could preclude extra exercise.
  • Is the horse fit enough? Unfit, overweight horses are at risk of developing heat stroke, tying up, injury, and misery, so proceed with caution when dealing with “hefty” older horses.
  • Check eyesight and hearing, as may not be 100% and could increase the number of spooks.
  • Does the tack still fit correctly? Your horse will probably change shape a lot between his teens and 20s due to change in work and ageing.
  • Always advisable to have vets check him over to ensure there are no underlying problems that could inadvertently be hurting, injuring, or damaging your senior partner in any way.

Most importantly enjoy your horse and make the most of them without “writing them off” completely, just because of a number defining their age.

Frequently Asked Questions About Feeding Horses For Competition.

FAQs about feeding horses for competition

What can I feed my horse to increase his stamina?

Assuming work and fitness levels are suitable, if the diet is not balanced it is likely to be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals which can be causing the horse to feel a little lacklustre. These nutrients are needed by the body to release the energy content from the rest of the diet as well as for general health and well-being. Ensuring the diet is fully-balanced at all times will help make sure the horse is not lacking and so feels more willing and able to perform. Horses on a fully balanced diet who need more stamina, can be fed oil which is slow release, non-heating and has a glycogen sparing effect.

What do I feed my horse on competition day?

Ideally, your horses diet and routine will stay as close to normal as possible. Give breakfast as normal and avoid doing anything to indicate that it’s a competition day until the horse has eaten up. Then travel the horse with a net of hay or haylage to maintain fibre intake.  On returning home, the horse should also receive his normal feed as normal, even if the following day will be a day off, the exertions of the competition will have drawn on nutrient reserves which need replenishing.

My horse needs the calorie intake of a competition horse but he just gets too fizzy! What are the alternatives?

Where a calmer approach is required, choosing a high energy cube, like top line conditiong cubes, is a good alternative. These are designed to be highly digestible and non-heating with levels of other nutrients to support performance to the highest levels. For sharp or stressy horses, the high oil and high fibre content of all round endurance mix  is ideal for providing slow release energy, quality protein, vitamins and minerals to support performance.

Do you know the 10 golden rules for feeding?

1. Feed little and often (horses are trickle feeders and need to ensure the digestive system keeps working properly)

2. Feed plenty of bulk (roughage, hay/haylage, grass)

3. Feed according to the size and weight of the individual horse (more work requires more energy and more food)

4. Introduce new feed gradually (bacteria in the large intestine break down the feed and they have to adapt to any changes in the diet. Sudden changes can cause some bacteria to die, produce poisons and cause metabolic disorders)

5. Keep your daily feed routine the same (horses thrive on routine)

6. Feed something succulent each day (succulents like apples and carrots help to maintain the horse’s interest and adds moisture to the feed)

7. Do not ride one hour before or after feeding your horse hard feed (a full stomach will put pressure on the lungs and affect the horse’s breathing. Fast work results in redistribution of the blood in the body, leading to impaired digestion)

8. Provide a constant supply of fresh water (if this is not possible, ensure that the horse is watered before feeding so that undigested food is not washed through the digestive system too rapidly)

9. Ensure all feed utensils/ buckets are cleaned (horses are fastidious feeders and can be easily deterred from eating)

10. Keep a check on your horse’s condition.


Feeding for competition- Salts and Water

Feeding for competition

The second part of this blog series looks at the importance of the salt and water intake to the horse, especially the competition horse. When our horses sweat, they loose essential body salts, otherwise known as plasma salts. These are Sodium, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium, which can be fed in a well balanced electrolyte in order to maintain the salt balance in the body. An average horse can lose up to 90g of body salts in just two hours work, emphasizing the need to replace the salts.

If your horse is lacking electrolytes, the horse will feel lethargic, and a continuation of this loss is highly detrimental to the horses health. As the main electrolyte is salt, it important to use a salt based product (not a solution) as it is not possible to suspend enough of the mineral salts needed within a solution.

Equine America produce an electrolyte, that comes as both granules and paste. If a horse is in medium to hard work and sweating on a daily basis, an electrolyte supplement is advised. Apple Lytes is a salt based product which can be added to the feed on a daily basis. For high level competition or endurance events, apple lytes is also available in a handy syringe for instant replenishment of electrolytes.

Apple Lytes Granules 1.8kgApple Lytes 2x15ml

The importance of water must also be highlighted at this point as around 70% of the horses body weight is water. An average 500kg horse in light work will require about 25 litres of water a day. This need is increased to as much as 300% or around 75 litres if strenuous work is undertaken, this should be provided as a combination of feed and water. If you think your horse is dehydrated, you will see signs of reduce appetite, poor performance and a general lack of ‘oomph’.

Feeding For The Competition Season- Feed Balancers

Feeding for the Competition Season

When the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, many horse owners and equine enthusiasts tend to do a lot more with their horses and ponies. However, how many of us change our feeding regime in the summer compared to the winter months? A lot of horse owners tend to feed more during the summer, however, the one golden rule to remember is ‘feed in accordance to work done’.

If you overfeed your horse, it can lead to an overload of starch intake as well as other complications, and not to mention the waste of feed not being broken down by the horse. Whether you are feeding for high level competition or for light work, its imperative to make sure your horse is getting the most from his diet.

In this blog series, we will look at the additional supplements that you could feed  your horse to help them to maintain a healthy and efficient digestive system. This blog will look at concentrated feed balancers.

Concentrated feed balancers

One of the best ways to ensure that your horse is getting the best from his diet, is to feed a concentrated feed balancer. This will give nutritional support to the gut and help to optimise digestive function. As the cornerstone of health in the horse, when the gut is functioning correctly, it will undoubtedly reflect in his condition and performance.

A good balancer provides a balanced supply of high quality vitamins, minerals and micronutrients to support general health and vitality on a daily basis.

NAF produce a highly effective and highly popular feed balancer. Their aim is to put balance back into the diet and to optimise the horses health. The NAF five star optimum feed balancer will restore and maintain a five star condition, topline and health, maximise the nutritional value of the daily feed ration, and optimise the health and efficiency of the digestive system. This feed balancer comes in pellet form, meaning it is easy to add to your horses normal feed, or can also be fed by itself from the hand. The pellets are formulated to complement either a high fibre low concentrate or performance diet.

NAF feed balancer

Spring Grooming, Coat shedding, manes and tails!

Spring grooming, Coat shedding, manes and tails!

By now the winter coat should be well on its way out and a lovely healthy summer coat coming through.  There are many grooming items that can help with the malting process including rubber curry combs which also give massage therapy to your horse’s muscle tone and the shedding blade which is very popular as this helps remove the hair effectively in large quantities.  Your horse is quite likely to thoroughly enjoy being groomed at this time of year and it will leave them feeling great.

Moving onto manes and tails, manes at this time of year may also look like they need some good brushing and attention. Using a mane and tail product, such as Carr,Day&Martin Canter Mane and Tail, Equine America Magic Sheen detangler or many of the other similar products on the market will certainly help your horses mane and tail become tangle free, shiny and looking luscious!

Mane and tail pulling may well be on your agenda for this time of year, there is the old faithful pulling comb (and don’t forget to stock up on plasters if your fingers suffer when using this method) but other popular products include thinning blades, The Solo Comb and Smart grooming products which will all help with the job making a neat and tidy mane, ready for plaiting if required.

Happy Grooming!

Everyday vitamins and minerals.

Everyday vitamins and minerals.

The domesticated horse is often deprived of the correct amount of nutrients as we remove them from their natural habitat. Your horse requires several minerals to meet a variety of functional needs; these are macro minerals (those needed in relatively high amounts) There are also minerals called trace minerals (those needed in relatively small amounts) Horse feeds tend to be variable in many minerals, and as they are usually low in sodium and chloride (salt), it is recommended that you offer your horse some kind of salt source, such as a salt block.

Vitamins are classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins, include A, D, E, and K, while the water-soluble vitamins include the B complex and vitamin C. Horses, unlike humans can create their own vitamin C and therefore generally do not require it in their diet. Vitamin D is found in good amounts in sun-cured forages and sunlight. Vitamins A and E are found in variable amounts in pasture and hay, with higher amounts found in pasture during the spring months and in hay that hasn’t been stored for too long.

Often at this time of year horses can appear a little ‘flat’ or perhaps their coat is lacking its usual shine, goodness has gone from the hay and there is no grass available with any nutritional content.  If this is the case then a vitamin and mineral supplement may be beneficial.  There are many different types of vitamin and mineral supplements available, choose a well know brand for quality assurance and follow the feeding advice on the packaging.



Clipping your horse


Clipping, as is with most aspects of horse care, a personal preference for each horse owner. So, why do we clip our horses in the first place? In the winter, your horse will grow a long, woolly coat to protect them from the elements. If you are working your horse during the winter months, their long woolly coat can become a hindrance. Cold sweat on the coat can take a while to dry completely in the winter, and can lower your horse’s core body temperature and make it hard for them to keep warm, leading to an increased risk of catching a chill or having problems with maintaining condition.  Clipping can help with this by reducing the amount your horse sweats, making them easier to dry off after exercise. Clipping can also help the coat condition and can make a horse look smart. When clipping your horse, it is also important to remember that you’re taking off their warm, efficient winter coat. Therefore, it is important to rug your horse appropriately for the type of weather during the winter.

There are many types of clips available, choosing a clip depends on how much your horse sweats, how much work you are going to be asking of them, what you think suits your horse and also, pricing can be an important factor. The harder your horse works, the larger body area it is appropriate to clip, so horses only in very light work will only require a small clip, or no clip at all if they do not sweat too much. The greater the area that you clip, you will have to ensure you keep your horse warm, with rugs, other protection and stabling.

If your horse isn’t a fan of being clipped, it is important to allow plenty of time and to apply plenty of patience when it comes to clipping time.  Introducing the clippers slowly to the horse will help them become accustomed to the noise that they make and the sensation that comes along with being clipped. People often use a calmer to take the nervous edge of some horses and there are many to choose from if you wish to.  However, if you feel the problem is too great for you to deal with, don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help resolving the situation.

By Emma Mills

Sycamore poisoning in horses – Atypical myopathy

Horse owners: warning over sycamore poisoning

Vets and Horse charity’s are urging horse owners to stay vigilant and keep their pets away from sycamore following a recent rise in cases of sycamore poisoning, known as atypical myopathy.

What is atypical myopathy?

Atypical myopathy is a highly fatal muscle disease, thought to be caused by the ingestion of hypoglycin A, a toxin contained in seeds from the sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus).

British vets have seen an alarming rise in new cases of atypical myopathy this year.

Young horses appear to be more susceptible, as are those being grazed on parched land.

Warning to stay alert

Horse owners need to be alert at all times but especially during the spring and autumn months.

If you are worried that your horse may be showing any symptom, call the vet immediately.

“The signs range from depression, muscle weakness, recumbency, choke or colic-like symptoms to dark red urine.

“The sooner atypical myopathy is diagnosed the better the likely outcome.”

Top tips from the Blue Cross to prevent atypical myopathy in horses

The Blue Cross Education Team has worked with veterinary experts at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic to put together the following advice to help horse owners prevent atypical myopathy:

  • Feed forage, such as hay in parched fields, off of floor in haynets or feed racks
  • Do not over stock
  • Limit turnout. Ideally stable horses over night
  • Section off areas around poisonous trees and collect and dispose of leaves safely away from horses
  • Remove young sapling plants
  • Be careful of streams running through paddocks as this is thought to be more prevalent in moist places
  • Be vigilant of the potential signs of this disease and act quickly if your horse becomes poorly.
  • Ensure you check your horse regularly at least twice daily
  • Check your pet insurance is up to date


Rug Season – Winter rugs

Rug season.

Deciphering the lingo!

It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about the winter rug season.  Many people will be looking to buy new ones or source good quality second hand.  If you are lucky and have horses that don’t wreck their rugs you may only need to get yours cleaned and re-proofed.


These come in lots of variations, from a rain sheet with no fill right through to heavyweight.  Standard rugs come without neck covers, and there are combos with fully integrated necks and others that have detachable neck covers which make for a more versatile option. Every person and horse have their own preference and it will depend on many factors including the amount and type of work that your horse is doing, what kind of clip they have and even the area you live in.

Medium weights are popular and usually have an inner fill of between 150g – 220g and heavyweights are usually 300g – 450g, good for horses that are fully clipped, when it gets snowy and really cold, or you are up in the North!

100g fill rugs are increasingly popular as they are good for Spring and Autumn rug season when the weather is slightly cooler but not cold enough to start really wrapping them up.

The denier of a rug is the outer layer and determines the strength of the outer fabric, most turnout rugs are between 600 and 1200 denier, with the highest being the strongest.  There are also rip stop fabrics which help prevent tears spreading.

There are a lot of brands on the market, each with a slightly different fit so getting advice from your local tack shop can be helpful if you are unsure.

Every horse person will have their own view on what rugs should be used.  However,  nature does work with horses and they will grow their hair according to how cold they are.  It’s probably the wet that they suffer from the most.

What size is your horse?

Check other rugs for sizing or alternatively measure your horse from the centre of your horse’s chest to the middle of his tail. Most rugs are measured in feet and inches, but most usually have the cm equivalent too.



First Aid Kit – the essentials

An essential first aid kit should be part of all horse owners equipment and with the start of the show season its a good time to check yours to make sure you have all the essentials, be it for home or for travelling and shows.

A basic essential first aid kit should have the following:

  • Cotton Wool, Poulitce, Gamgee and non stick dressings
  • Antibacterial scrub
  • Sterile saline
  • Wound gel and cream, such as Derma Gel, Dermoline cream and purple spray.
  • Vaseline/Petroleum jelly
  • Selection of bandages such as vetwrap, elastoplast, stable bandages and bandage pads.
  • Scissors and thermometer

Other items that would benefit the kit would include items such as Head collar and rope, hoof pick, a Torch, towels and a clean bowl or bucket.

These items should be kept in a clean dry box where everyone can find them an used or expired items replaced immediately.  The box should be labelled clearly and should include contact numbers for your veterinary surgeons.

The aim of first aid is to take immediate action when an injury is discovered, to prevent the condition getting worse while awaiting veterinary assistance.

Cuts and grazes are the most common injuries that are likely to need attention and actions must be taken to stop bleeding and prevent infection.

Knowing your horse will help you spot any thing out of the ordinary and regular checks will also help spot early signs if something is wrong.

Knowing your horse’s vital signs will help to determine if something is wrong.

Normal respiration rate is 8-12 breaths per minute at rest, temperature should be 37 – 38.5 degrees C,  nose and eye membranes should be salmon pink in colour.

Always call the vet if you are in any doubt over your horse’s health.




No Hoof No Horse

Winter is hard on horses and this winter particually, due to the constant wet ground.   Hooves are either constantly submerged in wet muddy conditons or always changing from wet to dry causing stress to the hoof horn.

There are many products available for various purposes so do some research and find out what your horse needs.  Your farrier will let you know what condition the hooves are in and how you can help your horse.

Barriers which work to keep excess moisture out are popular at this time of year, CarrDayMartin’s Daily Hoof Barrier is a great every day brand that people trust and is affordable,  you can find lots of tips and good advice on their website www.carrdaymartin.co.uk.  The Keratex hoof care range, while more expensive is very trusted throughout the horse community.

Thrush is a common problem year round but more so in winter as bacteria breed in warm and wet conditions, hooves should be picked out and kept clean as thrush can travel deep into the sensitive tissue within the frog causing pain and lameness.  Iodine and copper sulphate based solutions are effective aswell as anti bacterial hoof ointments.  CDM Tea Tree Oil is great for thrush prevention and treatment and also popular is Kevin Bacon Hoof Dressing, which when applied daily prevents thrush and maintains healthy hooves.  These applications can also be used weekly as a preventative measure in horses and ponies prone to such infections, check out www.alltimeequestrian.co.uk/product-category/hoof-products/ for all the hoof products available on our website.

Feed supplements containing Biotin among other vitamins and minerals can be beneficial.  NAF’s ProFeet liquid is an advanced formulation with biotin and nutrients supporting healthy horn growth, or Equine America’s Hoof Power Plus, which is a biotin rich daily supplement and particularly beneficial for horses with weak, brittle or slow growing hooves.

What ever it is that works for you and your horse when keeping their feet right is worth the effort as we all know the expression, No Foot, No horse!

The Dreaded Mud Fever

So the dark days and sub-zero temperatures are rapidly descending on all of us, and when you have horses, it can really get tough!

There are plenty of winter ailments that spring up when horses are turned out in wet boggy conditions. One of the most common is of course mud fever. Mud fever is not just caused by mud – it is attributed to bacteria that can enter the skin and is found in damp conditions, for instance wet feathers.
Symptoms of mud fever can vary from mild lumps to very severe infection and usually the skin oozes serum, which dries into scabs, creating a lumpy skin surface, that can swell and become inflamed. Luckily, there are a few ways to tackle this condition.

The first is with prevention; you can try to prevent the wet and mud clinging to your horse’s legs in the first place by using turn out wraps on the legs or alternatively applying a barrier cream or powder, such as Keratex Mud Shield Powder, which we stock and is very popular with our customers.

Treating mud fever can be an uphill struggle, but keeping affected areas clean and above all as dry as possible is key. A specially formulated antibacterial scrub such as TriScrub or Naf equiCleanse can help to remove dead skin and promote healing; skin should be gently but thoroughly cleaned and the scabs should be gently removed for the healing process to begin (poultice if necessary, don’t just pick them off). The hair may need trimming away to aid cleaning and a wound gel or powder may be applied. The affected area will appear raw and will be sore, so it’s important to try to keep on top of the condition.

We understand that this can all sound a bit overwhelming and daunting if you’ve never had a horse that suffers from mud fever before. An excellent treatment plan to follow is the Carr Day & Martin 3 step mud protection program of Cleanse-Heal-Protect, which involves washing the affected areas with their Gallop Medicated Shampoo, then applying the Wound Cream and wrapping the legs in cling film (not too tightly!) to soften the scabs overnight so they can be removed without picking them, finally being followed by the application of ProtectionPlus, their excellent waterproof antibacterial barrier cream, which protects the vulnerable areas whilst natural antibacterial agents fight off the fever causing bacteria.

Once a horse has suffered from mud fever there may be a recurring sensitivity to the problem, so prevention is an important tactic in tackling mud fever.

Written by Natalie Scott

Equine care: Summer problems for horses

This time last year shows were being cancelled left right and centre, the biggy of course was Badminton, so it’s great to see the sun shining and the ground dry enough to park the lorries.

Of course with the sunshine come seasonal problems for some horses, the flies and midges can be a real pest and some horses react badly to bites causing lots of uncomfortable lumps and bumps. We stock a range of fly sprays and the Deet based ones are definitely extremely popular at the moment, customers are saying that it helps with the flies but it’s really effective for midges too.

When I was a kid with ponies at home there was no such thing as a fly rug and I have to say I am somewhat sceptical about new fangled ideas but can really see the benefit of fly rugs and masks. As well as with the obvious benefits of keeping the flies off the horses skin and reducing irritation there is also now the sun factor to consider and as its so much stronger these days the vets are actually recommending fly rugs for UV protection too, something to strongly consider if you have a pale skinned horse.

Sweet-itch can start to become a problem once the weather warms up and from listening to many people it seems that keeping on top of it before it really breaks out can really help with some horses. There are lotions and potions that work for some and not for others and it can be a trial and error process to get the most effective product. Your vet will certainly help advise you on prevention and treatment but there are some basic procedures that will almost certainly help, such as stabling in the evening, not turning out near water, poo picking fields and keeping the muck heap away from the turnout areas.

For un-diagnosed problems you should always consult your vet as there could be underlying issues that may not have been considered.

Equine care: Always look your best

Getting your horse to sparkle takes time and effort but can have very rewarding results.

The day before the show is the best time to bath your horse and using a horse shampoo gives the best results as the pH levels have been tested and are balanced for a horses’ coat. For greys and stains there are many products to help with extra whitening and tough stains.

To get the best results you can either add the shampoo to a bucket of water and use a sponge or brush (a dandy would be most effective) or apply directly to the coat and rub in with a sponge or brush. Get a good lather up and make sure you get all those hard to reach places.
For best rinsing the hose pipe is by far the easiest although not all horses are a fan (mine used to grab it and spray me!). If they won’t let you near them with the hose then try a bucket and sponge. Make sure you get all the soap out to avoid any irritation and using a sweat scraper is really helpful for getting the excess water off the coat quickly. If it’s a hot day they will dry quickly but you can speed this up by walking the horse. If the weather is against you then use a sweat rug until they are dry.

There is nothing more lovely than a well groomed tail and detanglers are a great help and addition to any grooming kit, however care is needed not to over use as they tail can become greasy looking. I always brush the tail to get the worst knots out and then use my fingers to get the rest of the tangles as this seems to ‘fluff’ up the tail at the same time and avoids lots of hair being pulled out. The tail should be cut neatly to just below the hock length when help with an arm under the dock so its not too short when carried.

Once they are dry you can give them a once over with a soft body brush, finishing cloth or grooming noodle which will bring their coat up nicely. Ensure feet are clean and picked out and feathers are brushed or combed through. Chalk or whitening products can be used for extra whitening.
Some people like to remove whiskers which can be done with a horse shave and obvious care should be taken. Ears and a bridle path can be trimmed to look neat.

The morning of a show you will need to give him the once over and remove any stable stains. A dry shampoo is useful here to save washing again but if washing is necessary use a sponge and bucket and just a small amount of water and shampoo to avoid too much lather. Once groomed a coat gloss is a great addition for an extra sparkle and will help keep the dust and grease off the coat.

If plaiting then a quick plait spray can be helpful as it ensures the mane lies down making for a neat and tidy plait whether using bands or sewing.
Ensure your tack is gleaming, boots polished and hair is tidy under your and that you are well presented.
Apply hoof polish just before you go into the ring so its shiny without everything being stuck to it.