“Scratches” is a term that refers to a skin problem or dermatitis on the lower legs and heels of horses.
It is caused by fungus or bacteria that breed in damp conditions. The affected area becomes crusted, scabby, may ooze, and can be quite painful to your horse.
First and foremost, keep your horse’s legs as dry as possible. Take the extra time to towel off legs and heels after a summertime bath, and after night-time turnout. If Scratches does set in despite your best efforts, look for natural products that will combat the bacteria and help heal the affected areas.
As alternatives to the old-time remedies of zinc oxide ointments or nitrofurazone and steroids, consider products that contain povidone iodine, tea tree oil, rosemary and lavender. Calendula cream can be soothing to the inflamed areas.