Manure, diarrhea, and urine scald can create problems on your horse’s legs.


This is usually a mare’s problem in the urine department unless you have a particularly talented gelding or he likes to pee in the middle of tornados. Mares tend to have the likelihood of urinating on the underside of their tails, and in some cases, this can evolve into urinating down the hind legs.  


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  • This is not to be confused with cannon keratosis, the leg funk any horse can get on the front of the cannon bones. This skin condition is not caused by urine and results in scaly and greasy clumps on the front cannons.


cannon keratosis on a horse hind leg cannon bone

This is cannon keratosis, which is not urine-related.


The problems with actual urine scald.




  • There’s staining that can occur on your horse’s tail and legs. Urine is notorious for creating dark yellow tails that are also STICKY. You don’t want to be shampooing daily, but you can rinse with white vinegar daily. Harsh shampoos strip protective oils from your horse’s hair. This means stains have an engraved invitation to take up permanent shop in the brittle hair. Condition the SNOT out of the tail. Then use a grooming oil to create a physical barrier to stains. This will help maintain the stinky and sticky urine stain tail daily.

For more tips on urine stained tails, this article has you covered.


  • There’s the problem of the staining that can happen on your horse’s coat and legs. Same thing here – you want to keep your horse’s coat conditioned and not brittle or dried out from detergents. Using a spot remover to lift stains is a good idea, as is using conditioners and grooming oils.  



urine and manure stains on horse's gray tail

Urine can create awful stains on a horse’s tail.


The smell


  • Don’t forget about the smell. Flies love smells! Urine and manure smells are the milkshakes that bring all the flies to the yard. Some spot removers, like Easy Out, are also natural deodorizers that eliminate odors and smelly funk. This will help.


The burn


  • And the urine and manure can “burn” your horse’s skin and remove the hair. If it comes to this, your vet needs to help you figure out the best ointments to use. The goal here is to help heal the burned skin, and provide a slippery surface for any subsequent urine to stay away from the skin. Some people swear by A & D ointment or petroleum jelly, you could use a grooming oil in a pinch.  There’s an element to healing that probably can do with something more targeted and appropriate and will still create that barrier to keep urine away – like a burn cream or antibiotic ointment. In a nutshell, your vet will help.


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Light oil is a great conditioner, and it helps stains and “stuff” slide off.



Find out WHY urine scald is happening.


This is the most important problem to tackle. Please get your vet involved. Some of these situations can escalate.


Estrus cycles


  • It could be your mare’s heat cycle. When your mare is cycling, she changes her urination habits to attract a stallion. She uses small amounts of urine dribbling down to pick up vaginal secretions. These let any stallions in the area know she is in heat. The smaller amounts of urine tend to fall on the inside of the legs which may be a source of the problem.


Urinary problems


  • Urinary tract or bladder infections. These situations create inflammation, which frequently tells your horse to urinate more frequently, even when the bladder is not full. This is also seen in colic situations, as a horse will try anything to eliminate the pressure in his gut. The point is – the frequent and smaller urination may be dribbling down the hind legs.


  • It’s also worth mentioning that stones in a horse’s bladder can cause massive problems and the dribbling of urine down a mare’s hind legs. As you recall from the excellent article about horse urine, it’s cloudy and full of things like calcium carbonate. Which, incidentally, is responsible for making bladder stones and enteroliths, the sometimes giant stones that form in a horse’s GI tract. Depending on their diet, some horses will have too much phosphorus, which can also lead to stones.


  • Stones in the kidneys are primarily rare in horses, stones in the bladder are more common than those in the kidneys. Like a generic urinary infection, they cause inflammation, discomfort, and may mimic colic. Unfortunately, they can also cause death. A blocked urinary tract can easily rupture a horse’s bladder causing death.


horse belly and urine patch in the sand

Knowing your horse’s normal urine output and characteristics is important!


  • These urinary problems are possible in mares and geldings and stallions, it’s just mares that may make them a bit more obvious. I can’t stress this enough – get your Vet involved. You should already know your horse’s normal urination habits, the normal volume of urine, and what it looks like. This includes how foamy it is, the color, and even the smell.


  • Dehydrated horses will also concentrate their urine, which will be darker and “stronger”, and may be more likely to scald your horse.


Neurological conditions


  • Some neurological conditions create difficulty for your horse to lift her tail while urinating. Same for muscle issues, hind leg joint problems, and lamenesses. Your horse can be uncomfortable in some areas and still appear sound, so your vet can help you here, too.


Blankets and straps


  • Your horse may also have some urine scald issues because of blanket or leg straps. When a mare urinates, there’s a good chance that the urine stream is hitting any blanket straps that loop under the tail. This can saturate them and then rest against your horse. Same for some types of leg straps. A horse blanket’s tail cover might also interfere with urination. Something to consider when you and your vet have exhausted all options.


Digestive issues


  • There are a slew of medical issues that can cause diarrhea or drippy manure in horses. Seek your vet’s advice here. From food allergies to dangerous weeds in the pasture to colic to hindgut issues like acidosis and colitis and even parasites, loose manure is a warning sign that needs to be addressed.


urine scald on horse's hind leg



Tips to prevention urine scald


  • If you and your vet have eliminated all medical issues, time to get creative in how you keep this area clean and try to prevent more staining and scalding.


  • You can loosely french braid the top portion of your horse’s tail so the shorter hairs are clear of the urine stream.


  • Use grooming oil to help the tail and hind legs stay slick!


  • Remove any tail coverings from blankets and play around with different styles of leg straps. I would suggest not using a tail cord, in which case you need some leg straps.


  • Consider doing some selective clipping in the winter. Long winter coats will trap sticky urine, which makes things hard to clean and treat. Some trial and error is called for here.

Investigate why your horse may be having some urine or manure scald, then move on to dealing with it.




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