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renlikhs 07-12-2013 02:45 PM

Newly rescued Belgian Draft - leg advice?
Hi, I'm a newbie so please don't flame me if this has already been asked!

I'm a very experienced horse owner (inc drafts) and have encountered many cases of mud fever/leg mites before, some which had become very advanced as had been left untreated.

I've recently rescued a Belgian Draft horse and have noticed that she has some leg issues and would really appreciate some advice as I'm stumped!

When I inspected her legs it became apparent that they had not been groomed or cared for at all (it's July and she had lots of dead winter coat all over her legs where her previous owner was clearly nervous of her!) Her feathers were also in a state. Her rear legs, whilst showing some signs of having had mud fever at some point were fine. Scurfy but nothing more than to be expected due to lack of grooming. Her front legs however are extremely scurfy and one in particularly has what I initially thought was mud fever that had been left untreated. As she isn't happy having her legs examined (something which we've made massive progress on in just a few days) I left it at a small examination that first day and I went back to inspect closer the next day and have noticed that just above the hoof, on one leg only she has some large lumps. She's in absolutely no pain or discomfort (I did the check whilst eating test to see if she's still nervous and she doesn't even flinch) with this which I find odd and it doesn't look, to me like it could be the remains of mud fever. She isn't lame either. She does have ridiculously over grown, split chestnuts (which my farrier will be addressing) and they look like they've started to turn in but aren't embedded. One of these lumps is in the region of the lower chestnut.

Does anyone have any experience of this at all or what it may be? I was wondering if it was likely it could just be a build up of grease/dead hair or something aggravated by the chestnuts and caused by the complete lack of grooming she's had. She's also underweight and I believe hasn't been getting the correct nutrition for some time.

Thanks in advance :)

Country Woman 07-13-2013 02:54 PM

all I can say is welcome to the forums
good luck with your horses

tinyliny 07-13-2013 03:50 PM

I don't have the experience to help you, but posting some photos would be your best next step. I don't know the meaning of the word "Scurfy".

Cruiser 07-13-2013 04:32 PM

Scurfy to me, means a waxy dandruff like when a horse has a winter coat, it is offend difficult to remove with a brush and usually have to bath to remove. Baby wipes work too.

In this case I would wash the legs really well with a antifungal or disinfected of some sort. Remove all the winter coat and remove any matting at the hocks or pasterns. If you have to clip down the legs, Belgians generally don't have a large amount of feathers in the summer, make it easier to treat or see anything wrong. Though that might be hard if she's nervous of her legs being handled.

Older drafts get side bone easily, if the lumps are near the hoof, nothing to worry about nothing can be done. If not she could have knocked herself causing calcification around the tendon (my mare as four or five lumps various sizes because of this, before I got her, cleared by vets for normal riding though).

Chestnuts don't bother me, cut off with sharp scissors or get the farrier to trim them. Or put Vaseline on them until soft enough to pull off.

renlikhs 07-13-2013 05:37 PM


Thanks for that! Has actually put my mind at ease...was convincing myself that she was going to drop down dead lol!

Am planning on attacking the chestnuts tomorrow I think, I really haven't ever seen anything like 20+ years! We're making great progress with getting her used to having her legs messed about with too so hopefully it won't be long before I can (begrudgingly) clip her feather and give her legs a good going over.

The difference in her in just a week, conditionwise, is just amazing!


Cruiser 07-13-2013 05:50 PM

My first horse never grew long chestnuts, my current horse they grow like crazy, whenever I sponge her legs down I peel off the chestnuts.

As far as her legs unless there is heat, or discomfort when palpated there likely nothing that can be done. I find calcification is really common, most people just don't notice it though. Removing the feathers, they'll grow back, will just make it easier for you, probably will grow back in much healthier in the long run.

FeatheredFeet 07-15-2013 10:21 AM

Hi Renlikhs and welcome to the forum.

We have imported several horses from the UK. Every single one, was full of mites. You will need to treat for mites and all the bedding, if she is kept in a stable.

You should probably read through our page on CPL and become thoroughly familiar with it. How it starts. What to look for.

If there has been any sign at all, that the horse has been biting or rubbing the back of the pasterns, (you'll know because the hair will be discoloured) then you should shave all the hair and start treating. Even though Belgians don't usually have much feather, they are prone to mites and other pastern problems, just like all feathered breeds. Left untreated, mites can start some very nasty problems, so do have a look here...

Chronic Progressive Lymphedema

And don't forget to look through all the links and pictures.


Gmac 07-17-2013 07:14 AM

Is she scratching and biting at her legs, and has bald spots and scabs and raw spots? Good chance it will be mites, and the best thing I have found for that is Dectomax injectable. I have a gelding that is pron to mites every spring and summer, and who has time to wash legs everyday with everything else you have to do.
The Dectomax worked great for my guy, don't know what you horse has I'm not a vet nor have I seen even photos of your horses legs, this is just something that has worked for me.
If you search or Dectomax on some of the draft boards you can find additional info.

FeatheredFeet 07-17-2013 10:57 AM

The OP is in the UK and many products we have here, are not allowed there.

To the OP. Do a goog search for..
pig oil for mites

You will find places in the UK to purchase it. That seems to be what many use there.

Many in the US, use Ivermectin wormer on horses coming in the from the UK. That seems to work for mites, lice etc. Don't think it is allowed in the UK.


Saddlebag 07-17-2013 11:21 AM

By all means clip her legs but wash them well first so as not to wreck your clippers. Even scissor most of the hair off. Do just vertical cuts and it won't look too chopped. How old is she?

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