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Re: Scratches

My understanding is that it is not necessarily a fungus. I have heard of
both dermatophilus congolensis (which is technically neither fungus nor
bacteria - and is the organism reposible for rain scald) and various
staphylococcus (which are bacteria) implicated in scratches - maybe the vets
have more information. I live in Western Washington with muddy paddocks and
have never had a case in wet weather. I had a moderate case after a trail
ride in absolutely dry weather. The horse most probably had sweat in the
pockets during the ride with a high 'dust' level (probably a good component
of heavier and more abrasive material than just dust). The second case was
after very moderate rainfall without mud actually developed. Caught that
early and one treatment with Betadine nipped it before it really got
started. The organisms are generally in the environment and appears that
superficial skin damage may the the triggering event.

Hair can trap moisture and probably some irritants as well. On the other
hand, it may also tend to keep the irritants away from the skin. Once it has
developed, the disease will supply its own moisture. I have no strong
opinion as to weather clipping is better or not. I don't clip - and didn't
clip when the problem developed but I suspect the results would have been
the same had I clipped.

Despite mud, I have never had thrush. My farrier claims he never sees it in
horses out 24/7 - mud or no mud (and mud is predominant in Western
Washington). But he does see it in stalled horses (where feet are likely to
be drier). Thrush seems to be more related to hooves packed with manure than
hooves packed with mud (even with the occassional road apple mixed in).

Observations for whatever they are worth.

Duncan Fletcher

----- Original Message -----
From: "Rides 2 Far" <>

> > accumulation of moisture which is an attractive
> > environment for the fungus which causes
> > scratches.
> Personally I think there's more than one type. Fungus is so weird. The
> only cases of "natural" scratches I've had were in dry weather after a
> sandy ride (no dampness other than sweat). I've always believed you
> didn't clip their fetlock hair because it naturally chanels the sweat
> from the leg down and off the tips of the hair instead of running down
> the back of the pastern. The only bad cases of scratches I've ever had
> were when the silicone the farrier put in pads got up on the heel area
> and apparently created an anaerobic environment (my diagnosis). Even
> though I wiped it off, I apparently smeared it and had a bang up case
> within days. We have LOTS of mud in the winter and it has never caused
> anything even resembling scratches here.
> Seems like maybe the muddy scratches may open up the skin through
> chapping...and the sand type through abrasian, once it's open the fungus
> hits??? So it seems the hair might help on the sand type...what do ya'll
> think?  Also, I think the sand reflects the sun and can burn the heels.
> I really find treating fungus confusing. When Whiteline disease first hit
> everybody said I had to dry it out, and was getting into the hooves
> through the nail holes. Out of 4 unshod horses and 2 shod, all the unshod
> got it, no shod horses had a trace. We killed ourselves fighting it all
> through the dry months, then winter hit and I couldn't see their feet for
> the mud for a few months and I just gave up. In the spring they were
> perfect.
> Same for thrush. They always blame it on a dirty damp environment. Every
> case I ever got was in the driest part of summer with no moisture
> anywhere.
> Angie

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