Common Fall Issues for Equines

The fall season is a wonderful time of year to cool down and enjoy the beautiful scenery. However, issues can arise during this time that may threaten your horse’s health. Being aware and educated on these issues can help you take preventative care. Read on to learn more about some common fall issues for equines and how to take care of them! 

Dew Poisoning

Colder mornings and increasing rainfall mean dew surfacing grass. Dew poisoning can result in a painful skin condition for your horse by causing deep cracks on the skin from a wet environment. Bacteria thrive in damp environments and can make their way into the cracks of the skin and cause severe discomfort. You can avoid this by monitoring your horse’s stall and maintaining a dry space. Dry your horse’s legs before returning them to their stalls to prevent bacteria buildup. Taking these preventative measures and checking daily for cracks in your horse’s skin will help decrease the chances of your horse suffering from dew poisoning. 

Seasonal Pasture Myopathy 

The fall season brings beautiful fall foliage, however, certain trees can be hazardous to your horse. Seasonal Pasture Myopathy (SPM) occurs when horses eat too many boxelder seeds or common seeds that grow on maple trees. Seeds grow in clusters and fall to the ground starting in September. SPM can be life-threatening to horses, with high fatality rates, stiffness, and severe breathing issues. Blood in the urine may also be present if your horse is affected by SPM. You can help prevent SPM by not allowing your horse to overgraze in the fall and identifying boxelder trees to maintain and trim for precaution. If your horse is grazing for an extended period, consider scattering hay bales to further prevent your horse from possibly consuming other seeds. If you think your horse may have consumed boxelder or other harmful seeds, seek veterinary care immediately.


Laminitis can happen anytime during the year; however, the likeliness of infection can increase in the fall due to rainfall and hormonal changes in your horse caused by the shorter daylight hours. Laminitis is a painful condition that affects the tissues bonding the hoof and pedal bone. Laminitis causes the failure of these vital tissues, which can cause further complications, such as a rotating or sinking hoof. You can prevent this condition by monitoring grain intake and grazing, and watching for symptoms. Symptoms of Laminitis you may see in your horse can be shifting their weight back and forth in an unusual way, an unusual growth in your horse’s feet, and lethargic behavior. 


Thrush is an infection of a horse's frog, which is the v-shaped structure under the hoof. Thrush thrives in damp and muddy conditions, which makes thrush more prevalent in the fall due to increased rainfall and colder temperatures. Thrush can be detected by swelling and discharge from the area. It causes extreme pressure and pain for your horse but can be easily prevented by maintaining your horse’s stall. Make sure the area is dry and clean to avoid bacteria growth. Regular care of your horse and inspection of the foot can prevent thrush from becoming severe or untreated. If caught early enough, the good news is thrush is curable with treatment in less than two weeks. 

Mud buildup

Mud buildup on your horse’s legs and feet can cause bacterial issues, painful abscesses, and cracks. Muddy conditions are prevalent in the fall months as rainfall increases. Maintaining a clean environment for your horse and solving runoff problems will prevent mud buildup. If an area in your barn or horse’s shelter seems to be collecting water regularly, consider taking a more detailed look at where the water is coming from and how you can solve the issue. You can redirect water by installing gutters or digging ditches. This will eliminate muddy conditions and prevent future problems from mud build-up. 

Make sure to look out for these possible issues that fall can bring. Taking the steps you need to keep your horse healthy will be worth it in the long run, and don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful change in season and cool temperatures with your horse!

Here at Equine Medical and Surgical Associates LLC, we offer a variety of products to keep your horse in peak health. Our Comfort Quik Nutritional Supplement can improve your equine’s joint and mobility health during the fall months. However, if you have questions or are concerned about your equine, please contact Dr. Reilly today!