Flanders and Swann, a singing comedy team from the United Kingdom, once penned a song that went like this:
“Mud, mud, glorious mud,
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.
So follow me, follow,
Down to the hollow,
And there let us wallow
In glorious mud!”
Of course the song was written from the perspective of a hippo.
For that animal’s distant cousin, the horse, mud also has its attractions–but for the horse’s handlers, it is anything but glorious. Every spring and fall (or virtually all year round if you live in the Northwest!), your dapple gray turns seal brown–with clumps–and threatens to disappear into the quagmire that has materialized around the paddock gate. You lose count of the number of times your rubber boots have been sucked off your feet, to say nothing of the multiple lost horseshoes. Getting the wheelbarrow to the manure pile is a daily struggle. You cringe at the way your grazing land gets churned up by horses negotiating their way through the goop, and you have to give up riding for weeks because your ring is dangerously slick. And then there’s your trailer, buried to the axles.
What’s not to like?
In addition to being a giant pain, mud and pooled water are health risks to you and your horses. They provide an ideal breeding ground for many types of flies and mosquitoes, especially those that carry various types of encephalomyelitis (including West Nile virus). Slick footing can lead to injuries when humans or horses wipe out. And mud also harbors bacteria and fungi that can contribute to scratches (a.k.a. mud fever) on