Horse Care Tips

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

What is Mud-fever?

Keeping the Legs Clean – Help avoid the problem

Protect against Mud fever

Soothe Mud fever

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

Mud fever is caused by a bacteria (Dermatophilus congolensis) which lives in the soil all year round, which only causes problems when it can enter the skin. This happens when the skin becomes broken, from small cuts and scratches, or from the skin cracking and breaking open. 

Mudfever takes a three pronged approach to combat. 

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

Turnout is important – both for the physical and mental well-being of the horse, but unfortunately, the UK winter climate is becoming wetter each year. Soil becomes compacted under the weight of the horses, particularly in areas of heavy traffic where water is unable to drain away, creating deeper mud. Hardcore in gateways can help reduce the amount of time horses spend standing in mud during the winter, as they often congregate at the gate when its nearly ‘in-time’

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

When constantly stood in wet and mud, the skin’s natural defense barrier becomes compromised. This causes the skin to become soft and weak and it easily splits, grazes, and cracks open. Once the skin is compromised, the bacteria living in the soil has the perfect opportunity to cause a problem.

What works for one horse won’t necessarily work for another – it depends on the individual horse, their immune status, management, age etc.  

This is why there is a great debate about washing horses legs, verses not. 

Cleaning the legs

It’s only natural to want to wash the legs to remove the mud, especially if the legs are already wet when coming in from the field.  Washing in itself isn’t a problem – so long as the legs are fully cleaned, can be dried, and aren’t left moist and warm. The warm and damp conditions are an ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive, which becomes ideal in a stable overnight. 

Ideally leave the mud to dry naturally, brushing off with a soft brush when dry. If washing your horses’ legs, try to avoid using sponges as they can harbour bacteria – washable towels (washed on a hot wash) or cotton wool is preferable

“Personally I use sponge cloths or dishcloths for washing and old hand or bath towels for drying. That way they can then be placed in a washbag and washed on a hot wash in the washing machine. It’s quick, easy, and effective.”

Claire – The NoseBag

[Image sponges and cloths into washbag/washing machine]

If you are going to wash – using a powerful antiseptic wash for hygienic and gentle removal of mud and dirt is best. Muddy Buddy Scrub has been specifically formulated to combat harmful bacterial present in wet, muddy environments  It is preferable to using a Chlorhexidine Based product, which not only sting if not diluted correctly, they strip the skin of any remaining natural defenses.  

Use Muddy Buddy Scrub alone or in conjunction with the other products for comprehensive support in challenging conditions

Muddy Buddy Scrub with Glycerine:

  •  A gentle broad-spectrum antibacterial wash, which helps to maintain skin hygiene in challenging conditions
  •   pH Neutral 
  •  ‘Non-sting’ gentle formulation 
  •  Contains skin conditioners to gently soften small scabs, whilst moisturising & soothing sore skin  
  • Gently soothes & cleanses 

 “We found that when we used this on our horses, the skin on our hands didn’t feel dry and sandpapery, like they have done in the past when using washes to treat mud fever”

Claire – The NoseBag

Protect and Prevent

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

Prevention is always preferable to a ‘cure’  The best way to avoid skin problems is to reinforce the skin’s protection. This can be done by waterproofing the coat, so that it keeps the skin beneath dry and healthy  The heels are the most vulnerable area and this is where problems first appear.   White hair with pink skin is generally more vulnerable in these conditions.

A protective barrier ointment with skin soothing properties  Use as a preventative before problems exacerbate  Use alone on the heels  OR  In combination with Muddy Buddy Powder – using the Powder up the legs to extend the protected area

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?
  • Water-repellent
  • Soothes & protects
  • Antibacterial
  • Contain Sulphur
  • Enables horses to be turned out
  • Protects the skin in muddy conditions and long dewy grass
  • Economical
What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?
  • Non greasy/sticky, lightweight formulation
  • Antibacterial protection
  • Water repellent Seals the hairs of the coat to keep the skin dry and protected
  • Sleek, silky finish means mud doesn’t stick – just glides off
  • Prevents mud, bedding & arena sand sticking to the area (in comparison to many ointments, creams & gels)
  • Safe to apply under turnout or brushing boots for extra protection
  • Pleasant to apply
  • Use as a preventative measure before serious problems can occur


Despite best efforts Sometimes, despite everyone’s best efforts, problems can still arise  Compromised skin can quickly become sore with crusty scabs forming  It is important to note at this stage that if the skin has become hot or infected then veterinary consultation should be advised as systemic treatment may be necessary  Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure Cream & Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure Powder are the ‘go-to’ products for scabby, sore skin.  Both products were developed in collaboration with studies at the University of Lincoln

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

PURE SILVER  Used for centuries due to its natural and gentle antibacterial properties.  Soothes and calms sore areas  To date there is NO evidence of any build-up of resistance to Silver  CHITOSAN  This natural compound is proven to be effective & efficient in the recovery of minor wounds, cuts & abrasions whilst minimising scarring.  Natural, powerful ingredients  Gentle, non-toxic formulation

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

Fast, effective relief for when skin is sore and the horse resents it being touched Gentle, non-sting action

The unique ‘puffer’ bottle applies the powder directly to the area without needing to make contact with the sore skin.

The Powder formulation ‘sticks’ even when the area is ‘weepy’ & ointments & creams are unable to stick. It dries up the exudate ready for the next stage

Quick acting – results seen in just days A gentle, humane and safer (for the owner) way to manage sore, painful skin

This product is designed to work when the horse is stabled or on a dry area and not turned out in muddy conditions. It works quickly with the aim to get the horse turned back out as quickly as possible

What is mud fever and why does it cause so many problems?

A lightweight viscous cream Gentle & comfortable when applied to sore skin and painful mud sores (when compared with thicker, stiffer ointments which have to be pressed onto the skin to stick)

Gentle ‘non-sting’ formulation

Apply to affected skin after initially using Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure Powder when the area was really sore OR In the first instance for sore skin where the horse can tolerate the area being touched

NOTE: This cream does NOT provide any barrier protection so should be applied when the horse is either stabled, turned out on a clean dry lot with no mud or it turnout is necessary, apply some Muddy Buddy Ointment over the top to protect and create a lasting barrier

When scabs have formed, removal is required as the bacteria are thought to live within the scabs. However only remove them when they come off easily DO NOT FORCE removal  Removal by force can be incredibly painful for the horse  PLUS  If removed too aggressively they will just leave an open wound/sore which is open to infection  Recommended action:  Soften the scabs using Muddy Buddy products – the Scrub contains Glycerine to soften and both the Muddy Buddy Ointment and the Muddy Buddy Magic Mud Kure Cream will soften the scabs if massaged in at least once daily. Try to avoid bandaging.  They should them lift/wipe away easily and the skin behind should have recovered to new pink skin which then needs protecting – if you are too impatient then by picking and leaving an open wound things will only get worse.

Other products to help get you through winter:

Lincoln Mud Screen – A water-resistant barrier cream for application prior to turning out in muddy and wet conditions. Contains Dimethicone to actively repel mud and water, together with a combination of powerful antibacterial agents. Invaluable during the winter months. Remember to clean off to prevent the buildup of the product – best using the Muddy Buddy scrub as it’s gentle and effective.

Lincoln Herbs Immunoherb   – Helps to support your horse from the inside.

Lincoln Pig Oil & Sulphur and Lincoln Pig Oil  spray-on solution – Are better suited to feathered horses, or those with thicker skin, rather than thin/fine skinned tbs, who tend to be much more sensitive

 Lincoln Muddy Buddy Gift Pack (NEW)  : A handy ‘mud-proof’ backpack filled with everything you need to protect your horse’s skin in muddy conditions! Contains x Lincoln Muddy Buddy Scrub,1 x Lincoln Muddy Buddy Powder, 1 x Lincoln Muddy Buddy Ointment, 1 x Dogbone sponge. This handy backpack ensures you have everything to hand when you need it. An ideal present or a practical solution in muddy fields.

 Lincoln Black Hoof Grease – to prevent extreme wetting and drying of the hoof wall. More of an issue with stabled horses.

 Lincoln Hoof Klense to keep on top of things like thrush. It’s very easy to get focused on one problem and forget about others.

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