To trim fetlock feathers or not?
My paint is 50/50 with 4 white legs. He is prone to scratches in the spring, thanks to our very soggy seasons. He also has a ton of feathers on his fetlocks. Right now we're keeping scratches at bay because he has been stall bound thanks to very wet pastures. No horse go out because they will just tear up pastures and have nothing to graze when it dries out. But as soon as he goes out, he will be in an 8 acre pasture with a ditch running through it. He has a path around the ditch, but always runs right through it, coming in with mud up to his knees sometimes. I actually don't mind the legs getting dirty, but after a few weeks of this, he ends up with scratches/mud fever, no matter how hard I try to avoid it.
I am becoming a pro at cleaning it. I have the medicated shampoo, already, and use an anti-fungal spray per vet recommendations.
My question is: should I shave the fetlock feathers off to allow his pasterns to dry, or should I leave the feathers on so the water runs off his legs the way nature intended? To me, it seems like 6 of one, half a dozen of the others.
I could totally avoid scratches by never letting him out until it dries, but I live in the Northwest, at the base of the cascades, and that's just not fair to a horse. I also board him, so I don't have much of a say in pastures, but the one he goes out in is definitely the biggest, best grazing, most room, least water, so I won't have that changed.