Rain Rot - How Much Is It Related to General Health vs. Environment?
I was interested in opinions about the causes of rain rot, particularly how much the susceptibility of the individual horse is due to his or her general health and how much is due to environmental factors (e.g. weather, paddock conditions, grooming, etc.). The reason for my question is that at the barn where I board nearly all of sixty horses now
have various degrees of rain rot. Thankfully my horses do not, but I also buy my own grain (Purina Ultium) and give them hoof and coat supplements, and they probably get more thorough grooming than many of the others, who are mostly school horses. Or perhaps I've just been lucky so far.
The BO's opinion is that this epidemic of rain rot is primarily due to our recent cool, rainy weather and then perhaps to a lesser degree because of insufficient grooming but that mostly it is out of his control (though he does treat it when it occurs). He would probably not be open to the idea that there could be nutritional factors involved or that the fact that so many of the horses are infected indicates that they might be in sub-optimal condition.
Finally, does a susceptibility to rain rot indicate any particular nutritional deficiency, or can a particular type of dietary supplementation help to prevent and/or treat it?
Here's my practical experience with it:
one barn, horses in paddocks, mud & rain, BO's 2 - 29 yoa horses got no rain rot. (My 2 did not go out in the rain.) Other horses ranging in age from 3 to 13 did not get rain rot. When my 2 went out, my elderly TB mare would roll in the puddles, literally putting her head under water and would emerge covered in mud. No rain rot. BO fed beet pulp and no supps while I fed Buckeye and supps.
3 yrs later moved to sandy soiled location. Lots of horses there had rain rot. My mare started to get it (see threads on Listerine) and I stopped it with the Listerine. My younger WB did not have any problems. I fed Seminole and supps. Moved from there. Lots of the old and young horses at that barn had rain rot, and they fed Nutrena.
I think it is the bacteria in the soil. If horses can live in the mud and not get rain rot, then move to a sandy soiled area and start to get rain rot, I'm voting this way.
I'm very partial to the general health/ diet playing the majority role in rainrot. My guys are outside 24/7 (with run-in that they don't really use) on dry-lot (or mud lot really with all the rain we've had the past year). Out of 6 horses- 1 had rainrot this summer and the one that had it was the newest addition to the herd. He has since recovered and is one the diet I have the others on- no more rainrot. I know several horses that are groomed daily, live in manacured fields, etc. and they have it something fierce-
“While the rest of the species is descended from apes, redheads are descended from cats.” Mark Twain
The organisms that cause rain rot are everywhere. The difference is the horse's susceptibility to them, and that susceptibility is (usually) attributable either to malnutrition, poor nutrition, or some other disease (or parasitic infestation) depressing the immune system and allowing the rain rot to set in.
If the horses are in good weight, look for some mineral deficiency in the diet.
"The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky
I see rainrot more with the first few rains after a drought period, and when we have regular light rains, then no one gets it. Trying to find who/why for about 35 years, nothing is THE reason.
Healthy horses get it.
Horses with excellent nutrition get it.
Horses that are well groomed get it.
Some horses NEVER get it, even if not groomed, poor nutrition, and very muddy living conditions.
In a barn of 30 to 35 horses, most of the time 5 to 10 will get varying degrees of rainrot (maybe once a year - usually as the winter coat begins to come in). They are on the same feeding program, and all look good.
There is DEFINITELY a genetic component. I have one mare that gets some rainrot every few years. Of mine, her foals are the ones most likely to get rainrot. A couple seem to get it each year.
I also worked for a Hunter trainer who had the theory that it was most likely to happen to horses born in a different area of the country. That may be valid for my mare, as the others were all born on the farm, but her foals were too.
I worked at a farm over 30 years ago that has a dermatologist as one of the boarders husbands. He was fascinated with it, and did scrapings, and testing. He just found basic dirt.
Last edited by Fairview Horse Center; Nov. 11, 2009 at 05:22 PM.
Well, I've got one who has been on Triple Crown Complete for over a year now (along with a few supplements for various things). The rest of the herd is also on TC feeds. He gets rr at the drop of a hat! Damn if this rain from Ida didn't make him so tender he just about dropped to the ground when I went to groom him this morning. His back is hot and he's miserable. Oh, and he has a trace clip, so he's not even as hairy as his friends.
I can't tell you how over the whole thing I am... He's on antibiotics now and I'm going to clip him out this weekend
I believe that nutrition and general health play a big part in which beasties get rain rot, but I also honestly think that some horses are just prone to it.
I think some horses are just prone to it as well. My mare never gets it, and her filly has never had it. My gelding only gets scratches (but he gets those a couple times a year). My boarder's mare gets rainrot every time we have any significant wet weather. We just clipped her this past week and found a bunch of rainrot under her winter coat. Boarder grooms the mare very well before riding and never noticed the rainrot under her winter coat, so it was well hidden. I almost think it's due to sweat in this case.
But 60 horses with issues? THAT sounds nutritional. Like not enough copper and zinc.
It has ben my experience that chestnuts with chrome are more susceptible, as is any horse with a compromised immune system. The cause is always present and is opportunistic especially in damp conditions.
i really see no connection with ANYTHING and rainrot. However one thing I have noticed is that chestnut horses seem to be more prone to it. THis is over years and years of living in hot, humid eastern NC conditions where rainrot seems to thrive. I ahve horses living outdoors 24/7 that never get it, and many of them rarely ever see a brush. Then have horses that are stalled and groomed to perfection get it. Sometimes vice versa! ANyone who knows my horses and feeding program will tell you that they are all heatlhy and on excellent diets. It appears to be an individual suseptibility to the organisms.
It has ben my experience that chestnuts with chrome are more susceptible
That is not true here at all. None of my chestnuts have ever had rainrot, and no scratches on the white socks, even though my boys with 4 each live in a very muddy paddock.
My mare that tends to get it is a dark bay, and her bay offspring are the ones that get it. She has a chestnut daughter, and it has not been a problem for her.
My other mares have all been bay or black, and their offspring - bay, chestnut, or black have not been prone to rainrot.
One youngster though had horrible rain scald. After a heavy rain, he was covered in painful, hot rainrot looking bumps. He flinched when we even reached toward him. Two days later, with no treatment of any kind, no pain, no bumps, hair coat looked great.
We all have our theories, but like I said before, none of them have proven to be valid.
I've had plenty of horses come in with it, but it rarely recurs once I get rid of it. If it does recur, it is minor and I take care of it right away. All my horse are on 24/7 turnout. Some need blankets when it gets cold and wet.
So I think it is partly environment, partly an individual's susceptibility, and partly our care.
I subscribe to the belief that it is always in the soil/environment/close to their skin and that horses get an overgrowth or infection when their immune systems are compromised due to stress. This could be dietary stress, environmental stress, illness or even the stress of moving from farm to another. JMHO.
I think you can't pin it down to just ONE factor. Not possible.
HOWEVER, the horse could be getting the same excellent nutrition, care, environment as the next horse, could even be the same color, but will get it and the other won't. So in some ways, yes we want the best nutrition, etc, but just b/c the horse is getting "triple crown like everyone else" doesn't mean that HIS needs are met and that his immune system is functioning as well as the other horses.
Ever notice people who could eat junk food all day but never get sick? or people who try to do everything right but get sick all the time?
Don't know if it's genetics, personality (more easily stressed=stress on immune system) or what, just sometimes, your immune system isn't all that great.
I live in Ireland so gonna have to throw environmental out the window because all of my horses should be covered in it and they're not. OK most of mine have rugs so I don't deal with the body kind. But even last years foals never had it and they stayed out with no rugs all winter.
I have one mare who when pregnant is more affected than others. When I got her she was 3 years of age and had never had proper nutrtion or worming. Her legs are doing fairly well now but I put her on a liver tonic this year for the first time coming into the fall. This has helped her tremedously.
I believe it's more of an immune system thing. But that's not to say if your horse has it, you aren't doing the correct things or aren't feeding properly. I think with my mare she missed out on proper diet early on in her life when it was crucial for her to have one. No scientific fact to back me up so just guessing.
COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.
"I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.
I have had several get it here and there to degrees but I have one TB who gets it horribly every year no matter what. He is well fed, well cared for, just the rest, and is (knock wood) otherwise a healthy happy horse.
Also, he definitely didn't suffer from poor nutrition or a different environment as a youngster- he was born in KY and was a pretty high dollar racehorse with excellent connections.
I think some is mgt but a lot of it is just the individuals.
Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved. - William Jennings Bryan
Like all things with horses, it depends. Personally if a large group of horses get it together I think nutrition (except for maybe if the horses are all closely related) esp if the horses have different backgrounds, breeds etc. There are just some horses that are more prone to it than others for whatever reason. But if my horse was a part of 10+ horses that all have it and all eat the same thing I would be thinking their systems are missing something.
Saying the immune system is the reason I do think is correct. The next question is why is the immune system compromised? Age, health, genetics?
Our OTTBs seem to have more problems than others, one in particular. Also has trouble with mud fever. His veins are hard as rocks, so he's been injected a lot over the years. Wonder if it was steroids and if that could be affecting his system even 3 years later?
Like all things with horses, it depends. Personally if a large group of horses get it together I think nutrition (except for maybe if the horses are all closely related) esp if the horses have different backgrounds, breeds etc.
These horses and ponies are not related and are all different breeds and colors and come from different backgrounds. Interestingly, now that I think about it, there is one group of six Welsh ponies who are related, and they seem to have largely resisted it, so perhaps something genetic is at work in addition to the other factors. They are all also super easy keepers and are on the plump side, whereas some of the others are definitely underweight.
I tend to agree with several of the posters that some dietary deficiency is at work, so I have resolved to brave Ida and get to the barn today to make sure the horses get their supplements.
I haven't ever thought about a color or breed connection before. The two that I have had the most trouble with over the years were/are solid bay OTTBs. My chestnuts, greys, black, and appy have never had problems. I've had a couple other bays who have had the odd spot of rain rot though. Of course, I think I've had more bays over the years...