How to Care for Horses During a Flood

Flooding can create numerous issues when caring for horses. Skin conditions, injuries, and contaminated food and water are among them.

Extreme weather events, flooding and storms can cause a horse to become stressed. In this instance, it is best to move them to higher ground where there is better drainage and keep their routine as close as possible to normal. Ensure they have access to clean water and shelter, and their feed remains dry.

Pasture and Paddocks

Flooding and mudding paddocks can pose injury hazards for a horse. If they get stuck, they are at risk of pulling a tendon or fracturing a limb.

After heavy rain, check for significant damage or debris lying in paddocks. Things like fencing (wires and posts) and bogs or sinkholes threaten your horses’ safety. 

Skin, Hooves and Legs

A horse left to stand in a flooded paddock or contaminated water for a prolonged period can develop many skin or hoof issues. Thrush, dermatitis, cellulitis, abscesses, greasy heel, rain scald, and mud fever are among them. These issues can develop into more significant problems like laminitis if left untreated.

Once the weather settles, we recommend bathing your horse to remove toxins, debris or microorganisms from its skin. This is an excellent opportunity to inspect your horse for any injuries you may have missed. Pay particular attention to their hooves and removes any noticeable debris.

Disease and illness

Contaminated water can spread waterborne illnesses such as leptospirosis and can lead to gastrointestinal issues in horses. Signs that your horse might be suffering include lethargy, inappetence, colic, fever and diarrhoea.

If a horse was caught in flood waters, it could have suffered thermal stress. Or, if stuck in running water, it may have experienced hypothermia. It requires a lot of energy and reserves to recover from this and restore core temperature, so your horse will need careful monitoring. Watch out for unusual nasal discharge, coughs, ocular injuries, lethargy and high temperatures.

Damp or Mouldy Feed

Feed, hay and other supplements must be kept as dry as possible. Mouldy or damp hay must be disposed of. If eaten, it can lead to colic and other digestive problems.