Having grown up mostly outside and in the barn, I was shocked to learn that I never knew mud until I moved to Maryland.
Apparently what I had experienced was more appropriately titled “wet sand” or “semi-moist soil.” This year, I’ve been baptized by snow’s wicked stepsister: mud. And there are several different varieties that plague the best riding plans. From least difficult to remedy to most:
1) Watercolor Mud. This thin grime boasts an almost silky texture. Though it looks epidemic coating entire blankets, it is easily dusted away.
2) Meringue Mud. Transforming teddy bear-like winter coats into miniature snow-capped mountain lookalikes, this silt is most often found on necks, legs, ears, and tails.
3) Kiln-fired Adobe Mud. Upon encountering this sludge, you legitimately wonder whether your horse tromped through a batch of uncured cement.
All kidding aside, it’s important to groom horses regularly, especially in wet conditions. Mud can trap moisture, bacteria, and fungus in hooves and on skin. Thrush, scratches, and rain-rot do not a happy horse make. And just think, the elbow grease you expend in a vigorous curry will keep you warm; the muscle behind an active hoof-pick will keep you fit; and the shine of your horse’s coat will keep you the envy of the indoor!
(If your horse does succumb to the scurf, Abby Phillips has a good primer on treatment.)