Common Winter Ailments & How To Prevent Them

Read our tips on common winter ailments and how to prevent them over the coming months, covering mud fever, rain scald, COPD/RAO and Impaction Colic

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Mud Fever

This is a skin infection caused by prolonged contact with wet mud.

Bringing horses in off the mud and washing their legs off will reduce the risk of developing mud fever. It is important to let the skin dry so standing in overnight or through the day on clean dry bedding is preferred. Fencing off muddy gateways can be helpful.

If the legs become swollen and painful it is important to call the vet as antibiotic treatment may be required.

Rain Scald

This is also a skin infection caused by the skin getting damp. A common area to see this is along their back and over the rump.

It is often seen in ponies with a very thick coat that have no shelter as the coat holds the water against the skin for prolonged periods. It is also seen under rugs as the horse sweats and it remains damp under the rug.

This can be avoided by making sure horses have adequate shelter, using appropriate rugs and checking under them regularly.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or Recurrent airway obstruction is a condition that affect a horse’s breathing. It
often becomes a problem in the winter as horses are stabled for prolonged periods with more exposure to factors likely to cause potential flare ups, such as hay, bedding and limited ventilation.

This can be prevented by removing factors such as using haylage/steamed hay and increasing the amount of turnout available.

Impaction Colic

An impaction is a build-up of food material in the horse’s gut. As the food becomes dry it eventually causes a blockage. This then causes mild colic signs and reduced faecal output.

This is more often seen through the winter as horses are stabled for longer periods being fed more dry forage and moving less.

A few tips to prevent this include: daily exercise/turnout, providing a salt lick, providing warm water when it starts freezing and sloppy wet feeds

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