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Mudfever - is mud actually the problem?

Being in the UK, a wet and miserable Winter is almost a guarantee which means unfortunately, horse owners are put off the idea of using a track system. One major contribution to this is the dreaded Mudfever.

We work with Jenny Paterson from Calm Healthy Horses and Sue Dawson, the UK representative - Calm Healthy Horses UK, from time to time and Jenny explains that despite the name Mudfever and the impression it gives of being caused by an external factor such as mud, the actual name for this condition is ‘photosensitisation’ which is caused by the horse consuming plants high in photodynamic pigments.

Jenny further explains that when lush, dark green plants high in photodynamic pigments are ingested, such as Clovers, Lucerne (alfalfa) and rye grass, the pigments enter the bloodstream and eventually reach the un-pigmented skin where they are exposed to UV rays. Once the skin has been damaged, the horse is left susceptible to secondary bacterial infections, especially in muddy conditions, hence the name ‘Mudfever’. Whilst you do need to treat any existing Mudfever topically, you must remove the cause. This could be something in your horse’s hay, grazing or environment.

At PB, we keep our horses on a grass free Paddock Paradise (track system) and feed netted, adlib meadow hay to eradicate any issues often caused by green grass. Through careful management, we’ve had no cases of Mudfever since going completely grass free despite some very wet and muddy Winters.

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