horse rugs and rain rot

17 Replies

I decided to rug one of my horses a few weeks ago, as he had been ill and they all live out  year round.  I checked under his rug (a waterproof one) every couple of days to make sure he was not too hot etc.  I was shocked to find one morning, that his quarters and loins had crops of scaly white scabs dotted all over.  I took off the rug and gave him a good brush out whereby the scabs came off with clumps of hair.  I was horrified, having never had this sort of problem with any of my horses before.  I took a sample of the scabby tufts along to the vet who confirmed my suspicions, not parasites or fungus but rain rot.  He advised me to carry on the treatment I'd already started - iodine applied to the scabby areas to prevent any infection setting in, and no more rug.   He said that this year quite a few rugged horses have got it because of all the dampness getting in.  Now it's unsightly bald patches until his summer coat starts to grow.  Anyone else ever had this problem?

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bantry 1360441415

In England we normally call it rain scald, it is caused by a parasite and dampness the hairs come out in clumps like tufts of hair and it clears up in the summer but it can re occur yr after yr, we found that the rain keeps the back of the horse damp which sets off the parasite iodine will kill off the parasites but be careful of pulling out the tuffs of hairs because it can cause a skin infection whereby the tuffs reveal just raw flesh as when u pull the tuft the whole of the skin is attached to it, best left alone and keep the horse dry!

Rowan1 1360441456

Yes most of mine have it, and not rugged! Its a form of mud fever, nothing you can do but monitor it until the spring... I have Butox'd mine just in case there is a parasite from rubbing on the gorse or from the Big bales of hay they rub on. Nothing strangely on their feet and hocks, where you would normally expect it, but a few areas under the manes!!! weird and Not a normal problem for me with native horses!

This winter has been bizarrely wet though!

Bon chance

sparrowhawks3 1360450215

I have a 10 year old thoroughbred I've only just recently acquired - I rugged him as he was wildly underweight and he has to live out, together with my 18 month old Spanish.  Who got La Galle?  The one with the rug on!!  I've noticed that the young one's coat gets wet, flattens and the water just trickles off like off a duck, and then the top layer dries crispy and flat to his body, as if he'd put styling gel on.  His mum's coat is just the same, and she's never had any skin problems, winter or summer.  The one with the rain scald has hair which seems to 'soak up' the wet like a towel and then it goes fluffy when it dries.  Perhaps having an oilier skin/coat type plays some role in fighting off fly and damp problems.  And despite copious amounts of sticky mud, no feet or hock problems like Rowan1's lot either, and just as well!  When is it going to stop raining????

razzledaz 1360503777

Does this occur also if you rug a horse that is still wet therefore as the horse dries off the fungus/parasites or whatever thrive in the damp warm enviroment that is created by doing that.

camion 1360505020

You shouldn't rug a horse that is wet, they can get cold, as the rug gets wet as they dry, unless it is a specific sweat rug( as they breath). But yes, you are essentially trapping the moisture against the horse's body.

naughtygirl-407214 1360506963

Sparrowhawks3, La Galle is very contagious amongst animals, one of my goats was diagnosed with it in his ears last week & I've had to inject all the others with Invermectin from the Vet. He showed me the sample under the microscope  & it was horrible, hundreds of mite like creatures crawling about....uuugh! He called it mange in English. The Invermectin injection kills everything at once, lice, mites, worms etc & lasts for quite a few months after 2 injections 1 month apart.

sparrowhawks3 1360538021

naughtygirl - don't worry,  the vet checked the skin and hair tuft samples I took down to be certain of my rain scald diagnosis - no parasites or fungus.  He called it Galle but said it was just caused by the damp that got in under the rug when the horse was rolling - as they do.  I know the mites that cause mange are disgusting.  A friend of mine picked up scabies in Thailand - human version of mange - yuck!

Nightsky-402638 1360705209

Rain scald.  Caused by warm, wet conditions.  It's a bacteria and I found something that really helps on a blog from New Zealand, where the conditions are perfect for it.  Listerine mouth wash - use equal parts of Listerine and water.  Put it in a spray bottle.  spray it on and leave it.   My mare got this problem about September time and looked horrible with the awful greasy effect and her hair coming out in clumps.  I only used the Listerine mix about twice and she is looking really good now and the hair is growing back well.  Supposedly the bacteria causing the hair loss are similar to the ones in your mouth - nice!  I wouldn't hesitate to use it again.  It worked better than my vet's suggestion of bettadine shampoo baths.

sparrowhawks3 1360707743

Nightsky - thanks for that.  Since I took his rug off, it hasn't spread to any other areas, and I've been spraying on iodine daily.  I will get some Listerine though.  Roll on dry weather.......

midgeandmary 1360711204

Funny how they haven't got any feet or hock problems same as others above have mentioned. The fields are all mud baths but I don't have any choice other than bringing the horses into the house.  (I have a friend who used to take her foal into the kitchen sometimes) Would be interested to see the New Zealand blog Nightsky.  And Rowan 1, what native horses do you have?  Are they generally more resistant to skin problems?

jb-8 1360751200

Sounds so miserble! Our old horse used to have this problem, then we invested in premier equine rugs and kept her rugged when ever the threat of rain and she was fine. Sadly shes no longer with us.

Have kept our horse in most of this winter, shes used to it. I hate mud, she hates the mud and absolutely destests the rain, so she stays in. Simple. 

miss monypenny 1360763240

when rugging a horse or pony it is of the utmost importance to have 2 rugs, so that you can change for a dry rug at least once a day,and air the other one in the meantime. Preferably air the horse for 15 minutes between the rug change.

As jb-8 says,buy good quality rugs, these tend to be lined(and breathable) thus absorbing the moisture so it doesn't rest next to the skin.

When/if the horse is stabled make sure he is either unrugged,or wearing a stable rug which will let the moisture dry out. 

Following these simple rugging guidelines should make the world of difference.

I dont have this problem,but mine are stabled and rugless at night.

Hope  your horses all get better soon!

midgeandmary 1360776576

thank you miss moneypenny for that advice,  I'm sure we all know the perfect theoretical solutions to avoid health problems in our horses, but sadly, unlike you, not all of us caring horse owners have the luxury of owning multiple high-quality (and expensive) rugs, let alone large stable blocks to house all our horses at night!!  We could never afford to build stables for four horses.  I did mention in my earlier posting that I had nowhere inside except my kitchen, and if you had read it properly you might not have insinuated that I and others had neglected to take the proper precautions to care for our horses.....

miss monypenny 1360778472

Midgeandmary, i was trying to give accurate and helpful advice to those in need.We cant all know everything about horses can we ! I for example never clip, so would ask advice if i did. I was only trying to help you, as from your posting it appeared you didnt change the rug to let it dry out .

I have rugged many horses over the years,but have always stuck to the basic two-rug-rule i learnt as a child.

I dont rug my Irish cob as he has a stable in his field,( which actually only cost 200 euros max to build, as we used 3m chestnut posts driven into the ground, off-cuts of chestnut planks from the local sawmill, and a recycled corrugated roof.My "large stable block" has an earth floor, great for regulating moisture.)  Horses are expensive,however you look at it,hence why i sold my beautiful adored foal last year-i was not prepared to have more horses than i could afford to care for.

Re read my 1st posting-i insinuated no where that you or anyone else neglected to take proper care of thier horses....   I have been using this forum for years, and when someone has a query about horses i always try to give accurate,unbiased advice ,based on experience and knowledge.

I am sorry you dont appreciate me ,or my advice,but please dont incite others to disregard what i have to offer !!

midgeandmary 1360785513

i stand to be corrected again miss moneypenny, but your posting was rather misleading - stabled at night  is not the same as put in a field shelter.  Of course we have one of those in each field we use as is even technically the law here I believe, but as it is open on one side to allow them to go in and out as they wish, the damp still finds its way in there in such meteo conditions as we have had of late.  His rug did not get wet - top of the range breathable gortex type with polar lining, and which according to some sources I consulted, allegedly does not need to be changed every day for a different rug.  I have a friend who rugs her elderly horse all winter, only occasionally taking it off to groom her and she has never had a problem.  No two horses are ever the same.


miss monypenny 1360786180


My horse has a stable,closed on 4 sides with a stable door,  it is not a field shelter, it is a proper stable,bedded down with straw daily,even if it is  in a field! I find closing both doors at night keeps the damp at bay...

Will say again,  was only genuinelly trying to give helpful,truthful advice.....

Whatever the manafacturer leads one to believe i would still advise changing your horses rug daily - or if you cant afford a second one try to take it off to air,inside out for a brief period daily, weather permitting. It is certainly true that no two horses are the same, but it wont hurt to air your rug nonetheless.


sparrowhawks3 1360793987

m and m, since this was about treating rather than what you ought to have done to prevent it, I thought you might be interested in this site on homeopathic treatments for horses. All pharmacies stock homeopathics and they are loads cheaper than in the UK.   all explained on this site, but do email me if you want more advice.

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