Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: middle of nowhere
I have a super-itchy horse in the summer. For him, the issue is bugs. Unfortunately, it keeps getting wetter around here, so they keep getting worse....
Anyway, first thing to address is diet. Try taking him off grains and soy. Mine is on a ration balancer, no other grains/feed. If someone tosses him a scoop of oats or sweet feed, he's itchier the next few days.
Consider adding flax. You can get whole flax and grind it yourself daily, or purchase stablized flax that won't go rancid. I get mine from HorseTech.
If you think insects are part of the problem, arm yourself with anything that may help--- mine does significantly better on Buggzo feed supplement than any of the rest. It does help some.
We also experimented heavily with different sprays/potions until you find the one that works in your area for your horse, and it varies. For me, that's the Pyrahna fly spray in the yellow bottle. Nothing else works for more than a few minutes. My guy is thoroughly sprayed twice a day. I go through about $20 of spray a week, but it's the only thing that gets him a few hours' relief from the biting insects.
A fan the horse can stand ahead of/under will help keep him cool and also deter bugs, particularly gnats and mosquitoes.
Fly mask and fly sheet -- due to trees and his itching, mine can't keep a fly sheet on, but I did find a fly mask that stays on (most of the time, anyway) and protects his eyes while he rubs and scratches.
A few things to try if you don't think it's all insect-related:
- bathe the horse thoroughly in Chlorhexidine solution. I put about 1/2 cup in the bottom of one of those things you put on the end of a hose and use for applying fertilizer to your lawn. Get every inch of the horse soaked, then let him air dry. Repeat once a week for two weeks, then once a month. You'd be surprised how much this helps alleviate itching in a lot of horses. Around here, random itchiness/rough skin is called 'the crud' and in spite of numerous people trying all sorts of treatments with multiple trips to the vet school, this works best and it's cheap. Some horses will need it spring through fall. Most will get over it if you're diligent to do the bath at least every 30 days until a freeze. A few will start up again in the spring, most will not. Whatever it is, this seems to help. I keep a solution of 2 Tb of Chlorhexidine to a quart of water in a spray bottle and spritz his itchiest spots and any raw areas daily, and it helps -- particularly on the legs and chest where he can rub raw spots.
- consider neck threadworms, particularly for itching in the neck/head/shoulders. Deworm with a double dose of Ivermectin, repeat in two weeks, then monthly until after a hard frost in the fall. If it's neck threadworms, the horse will get worse for a couple of days after the first dose as the micrfilarae die off, then he should find some relief.
- have your horse's blood drawn and nutritional levels checked. A horse low in vitamin E or selenium can have skin issues, but you don't want to supplement (particularly selenium) unless it's actually low. Vitamin E is often low in horses who do not have access to fresh, lush pasture. Overgraze pasture or hay is low, and supplementing E is usually rather safe. Still, if it's an ongoing issue, finding out vie bloodwork can help you narrow down your treatment plan rather than just taking shots in the dark hoping something works.
Last edited by SilverMaple; 07-19-2019 at 03:22 PM.