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Winter foot ailments

February 17th, 2011

During the winter while ponies splash and squelch through the mud, their feet may be picking up bacteria and these micro-organisms bury themselves under the skin and cause redness and itching.


On the bottom of a pony’s foot is the frog. This is the place where thrush attacks, and the symptoms include black discharge, horrible smell and soft, soggy frogs.

Thrush can be treated with surgical spirit or a specially designed treatment.

Mud fever

Mud fever is caused by bacteria that enter the heels and pastern via the skin causing scabs redness and itching.

If the wounds are dry use a grease based ointment, if they are weeping use an antibacterial scrub such as hibiscrub to wash them.

In extremely severe cases the vet may need to be called and may recommend antibiotics to help infection clear up.

The ailments above are generally found in winter, while the ones below vary.

Laminitis is a serious foot condition that generally found in spring summer and autumn caused by the pony being overweight, especially from lush grass or high sugar diets. It can also be caused by alien diets such as chicken pellets nicked from the shed, or dog food.

The feet get hot and feverish and and the horse will often stand in the ‘laminitis’ stance, rocking back on their heels to relive the pain of standing on their front feet .

If your pony shows these symptoms CALL THE VET.

Laminitis needs veterinary attention because if left untreated it causes severe pain, serious effects on the foot, and pedal bone rotation.


If you are picking out your ponies hooves as normal and he suddenly flinches away from the hoof pick he may have an abscess under the sole of his foot.

If he has got an abscess it will require veterinary or farrier attention. He will make a hole in the horses foot and poultice it to draw out the infection. The poultice will need to be replaced daily, your farrier will show you how.

In general, hooves need good care because they carry the horse (and you) around.

Apply moisturising hoof ointment daily but keep hoof oil to a minimum (only for shows).

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