Question for you folks that live in wet areas. I know that scratches are usually a problem when you have a heavily feathered draft, but would clipping the feathers (blasphemy, I know, but bear with me) help to prevent scratches if the horse doesn't already have them?
I live in an exceptionally dry area so I don't have to worry about it, but I was just curious for curiosity's sake.
I've worked with a number of drafts, Percherons and Belgians mostly and my Canadian mare. I find the super feathered ones are less likely to get it, as the moisture stays on the outside and with good bedding dries easily. While horses with moderate feathering, like Perches and Belgians, get wet to the skin, then don't dry easily to the skin. I also find that their own physical health makes a HUGE difference. The only
horses I've ever seen get serious scratches have had other issues - improper diet, worms, not a well bedded stall.
Some people say copper (in the diet) helps prevent scratches - but I haven't tried it. I used Desitin on my Belgian with serious
scratches, just parted his feathers and tucked covered it in cream. It worked - unfortunately I could only be there once or twice a week so little difference was made.
My own mare has light feathering and started to get it a little bit this mud-season, so I when I bring her in I rub her legs down with dry sawdust bedding and brush it all off after I've fed her dinner.
There's no need to clip their feathers unless they get it really seriously and need to be treated.