Yes, Florida is sunny and warm and pleasant, a veritable Mecca for equestrians—everyone who's anyone is here, with the big shows and the big hullaballoo. But what the literature on Wellington fails to mention is that Florida is also a holy land for all sorts of skin-eating nastiness. My seasons here have given me a few lotions and potions in my arsenal to both try to prevent crud and to combat it once it's reared its ugly head.
- Pre-Emptive Strike: Sore No More and Apple Cider Vinegar. The soil in Florida is very basic, so the funk that lives here hates acid. Enter cider vinegar—just enough to tip the pH balance on the skin towards being inhospitable to crud. I've also been told that flies don't like the vinegar smell, but I don't have any science to that. I mix vinegar with Sore-No-More liniment, 50-50, in a spray bottle and spray everybody down, cruddy or otherwise, after their workouts. One part crud preventer, one part post-exercise body brace, in one easy application. Neat!
- Scrub A Dub Dub: Salicylic Acid and Benzol Peroxide Shampoo. Once crud has invaded, I like to blast it with a mix of two popular acne scrubs. I mix the Neutrogena acne body wash (the one WITHOUT the scrubby pieces in it; too abrasive) with PanOxyl wash, both available at your local CVS. You have to really shake them to get them to blend, but it's worth it—they have serious crud-busting power. Leave it on the affected body part (legs, it's always the darn legs, ESPECIALLY with two chromey chestnuts) for 10-or-so minutes, then rinse. At first, do this every couple of days, not every day—it's tough stuff, and you don't want to anger any skin you don't have to.
- The Big Guns: Desitin, Clearasil ointment and Dexamathasone powder. This magical elixir is less for crud and more for scratches, another Floridian curse, but it works fairly well on crud, too. The desitin is the most important part, and because dex is a controlled substance under USEF rules, you can't use this within a week or so of a horse show. (There's no suggested withdrawal time for dex topically applied, so I give it a very comfortable cushion.) I just use the stuff straight as we approach show-time. Like with any skin funk, you want to keep dry stuff wet and wet stuff dry; the desitin helps moisturize skin, the dex takes the swelling down, and the Clearisil takes no prisoners. This is the goop-to-end-all-goop.
Last but not least:
- You Are What You Eat: Pennfield's Fibregized Omega. I switched to Pennfield grains about a year and a half ago, and the change in my horses has been dramatic on many fronts, but one of the most outward was their coats. Everyone got shiny, even Midge, who is not a shiny guy by nature. His coat is thick and coarse, like a wiry little dog, which means that it doesn't dry quickly, and there's lots of room for yuck to stick around. Pennfield didn't completely crud-proof him, but it's definitely helped. All of the Pennfield grains have science behind them, but my go-to is Fibregized Omega, fortified with coat-boosting omega acids. (Fender and Ella both also get a little Grand Prix Granola, for oomph. Midge has enough oomph for the entire barn!)
That's my crud-busting arsenal. A few other products down here I can't live without:
- Aerosolized Thrush-XX. It's like Koppertox, in a SPRAY! Yes, this exists! And it is amazing! No more green crap all over your hands or your barn floor. The humidity down here lends to easy thrush growth, so I use this stuff at the first sign of stinky feet.
- Sore No More's Sports Salve. Ella in particular is a terrific sweater, but between the sweat and the sand that gets EVERYWHERE and her post-body-clip weird coat, she gets these frustrating rubs in her "armpits," for lack of a better term. I grease her up with this stuff, and it helps prevent the rubs from opening up and becoming a real mess.
- My ActiVet cold laser. My horses work hard year 'round, but this is crunch time. And as Midge starts going to horse shows, I want to do as much as I can for him to help him feel his best, but without crossing into dangerous medication territory. The cold laser is terrific for treating some of the inevitable muscle soreness that comes with hard training, and is totally drug free. I laser this spot where his front legs attach—it's some tendon or ligament or something; Sal, massage-therapist-to-the-equine-stars, told me its name, which I promptly forgot—where Midge can get sore about once a week, and I think it's helping a lot. I'm also going to start lasering Midge's scratches to see if it'll speed up their healing.
Those are the tools in my toolbox this Florida season. Any of you have any secret crud-busting concoctions?