I recently did a paper on rain scald for 4H so here it goes
Rain scald, rain rot, mud fever... all the same thing and it is the season!
Ok, if you don't know what it is, it's a contageous organism that acts both like a bacteria and fungus infection that grows on the horse. It developes from the horse being wet without completely drying, because the fungus can then survive and grow. On the horse, it turns into scabs and they come off with tuffs of hair. If you find on your horse an area with several to almost covered in scabs, chances are he has rain scald.
A common misconception about rainscald is that it comes from the rain. It doesn't. I've seen horses that were stalled 24/7 get rain scaled. It's just not as common. This is because the horse isn't getting wet from being outside, and stalled horses are generally groomed more often than paddock kept horses. The organism grows better withOUT the pressence of oxygen, so grooming is very important for treating and perventing rain scald. HOW TO TREAT IT
Now that you know about rain scald it can be treated.
-Try to keep the horse dry and clean.
-If your horse is sensitive you may want help with this becuae he might not like it! You have to remove the scabs from the horse. You can do this by picking, or if they've reached a later stage, they can be brushed off with a hard curry comb. If they are hard, you can get the areas wet to soften it
-Once the scabs are removed, wash the area with gental anti-fugal and bacterial soap. I've heard of people using gental dish soap or blech, very diluted in warm water. Make sure the horse is dried well after this.
Don't be afraid, rain rot isn't a serious thing in a healthy horse. Some horses that are really healthy can even fight it off before it deveoped into scabs. In older, young, or unhealthy horses though, it can be hard on them and over work their immune system making them more susceptible to other illnesses. It's best to take care of it as soon as it appears, and follow these symple steps to avoid getting it (especially for outside horses): HOW TO AVOID IT:
-Make sure the horse gets completely dried for at least an hour every day
-Don't share saddle pads, blankets, wraps, etc. with other horses (it can be transfer that way)
-Seperate horses if one gets it to prevent the others gettign it
-Keep paddocks well drained and stalls clean
-Make sure horses have a dry place to stand and sleep if theyre kept outside
-Treat cuts with anti-bacterial soap/wash (ie betadine)
-Groom regularly, possibly clip or blanket (rain sheet) a horse if they have a very thick coat and live in a wet environment
-Change blankets regularly, and wash blankets and pads often
I like in Northern BC, where it's ALWAYS wet, and it's common for even the healthiest, dryest, most groomed horse to get even a couple scabs. But you don't have to let it get out of control. I saw a 3 year old once that was completely covered (litterally from ear to tail) in rain scald. The horse had to be clipped, then groomed 2 or 3 times a day and was blanketed for the rest of the winter and stalled at night. She lost a lot of weight because her owners simply didn't look after it when it started. My mare was one of the ones who would get a couple scabs on her neck under her mane, but I would groom her often, and bring her into the barn to dry every day.
It was my job at the farm to take care of the younger horses (yearlings/2 year olds) if they got it because they were more prown to getting it. I would bring them in a stall and give them some low protein complete feed and hay pellets to keep them busy while I got rid of the scabs (i found most horses will stand if you feed them something). I would wash them with warm water with whatever soap I decided to use, and put a cooler on them and give them some hay and let them dry for an hour in a stall before putting them back out. If I can do that with 5 young horses a day between chores, you can do it with your horses too.