I thought that the torrential downpours, muddy footing and soggy grass were bad enough. Now it turns out that the weather has caused an epidemic of Black Patch disease. Horses that eat clover infected with Black Patch drool. A lot. It seems like buckets of saliva drip from their mouths.
Technically, Black Patch is a fungal infection that is called Rhizoctonia Leguminicola. We have never had this problem before with our pasture, but then again we’ve never had this much rain and humidity during the summer either, and those are the conditions in which the fungus thrives.
Our horses started to salivate excessively after eating the problematic clover for two or three days. The symptoms abated fairly quickly after they were pulled off the pasture but the fungal infection is not always that benign. Pregnant mares that eat the clover over an extended period of time can abort and horses can also lose weight.
During a summer when one of the only bright spots was that the grass is growing like crazy, it’s a crying shame that now the pasture is off limits too!