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It's that time of year here, when the weather is warming up and all the critters are coming out! I have been wondering what to do for tick prevention. I have not found any on my horses in the past, but they are pretty woolly still, so I doubt I would notice and that's a lot of hair to inspect. We certainly have ticks here since we have a healthy deer population. I know a few people who have gotten Lyme disease.

I read that you can use Frontline flea and tick for X-large dogs on horses. Anyone do this? I hate to spray them with fly spray daily and honestly, I can't imagine they would like it either. We spray them for rides in the woods, but they live in a natural pasture with trees. There's no way we can get their whole body covered. Is there something you can apply to their legs so the ticks can't crawl up?
 

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We use sulfur dust on our pant legs and socks. I know many that use for direct application though. We fed it in block form when the horses were stripping the cedar trees. One of the old guys at the feed store had recommended it. They stopped eating the trees and we didn't see ticks that year either. Could have been coincedence but if you can get the dust and apply into their fur they wouldn't crawl up. Just needs to be up to and over the point the tops of the grass brush their legs.
 

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Yes to the sulfur dust, and further to that ------ if you have come crappy MTG sitting around, use it on the fetlock hair and the bottoms of the tail. The bottom several inches of the tail won't get a greasy buildup but the ticks sure don't like the sulfur smell(y):)(y)

Also, processed/powdered garlic does work but I don't recommend it for Harley & Rusty with their digestive issues.

It's the allicin in raw garlic that may cause anemia but a horse would have to eat the pasture dry. Allicin is processed out of garlic. There have been a lot of anemia scare threads on feeding garlic thru the years on various forums. I researched it and my bigger concern was the digestive issues it may cause in sensitive horses. When we first moved to this property, I fed it to all my Walking Horses with 85% success. I used the MTG on my Arab, who was a middle 3 on the Henneke when I rescued him and always had a finnicky digestive system.

FWIW ticks are big fans of pine and cedar trees. They wait for DH to bushhog underneath of these trees to jump on him - no kidding. I can bush hog under the same trees and nothing. Let him take the tractor under them and he has at least 2-3 ticks hitching a ride --- and both tractors have lids, lollol
 

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I wonder why they don’t make something in tablet form like they do gor dogs.

I use Nexguard Spectra and it works really well for all parasites - fleas, ticks and heart worm included. I even use it for street dogs I take care of and those dogs are very exposed to all sorts of nasties. 70% of street dogs I rescued so far were infected with heart worm but none of the street dogs I take care of ever got it.
 

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I truly don't believe there is any effective repellent for horses. At least not where I live. We vaccinate for Lyme and keep up with grooming to pull them when they are found. Still, sometimes you'll come out in the morning to a horse you groomed in the evening covered in spots with weepy yellow serum, so you know they had a bite and the tick fell out.

I agree with @Horsef that it would be nice if there was a tablet form scaled up from dogs for horses, but nothing like that exists. I'm surprised it's not worth the development costs for pharmaceutical companies to pursue something for horses, given the amount of money people are paying to treat Lyme on the backend. As my vet once told me about horses in our area, "Look at any field full of horses, point to any one of them at random, and if I ran bloods on them they would come back positive for Lyme." I can't think of many horse people I know who haven't had to treat for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I truly don't believe there is any effective repellent for horses. At least not where I live. We vaccinate for Lyme and keep up with grooming to pull them when they are found. Still, sometimes you'll come out in the morning to a horse you groomed in the evening covered in spots with weepy yellow serum, so you know they had a bite and the tick fell out.

I agree with @Horsef that it would be nice if there was a tablet form scaled up from dogs for horses, but nothing like that exists. I'm surprised it's not worth the development costs for pharmaceutical companies to pursue something for horses, given the amount of money people are paying to treat Lyme on the backend. As my vet once told me about horses in our area, "Look at any field full of horses, point to any one of them at random, and if I ran bloods on them they would come back positive for Lyme." I can't think of many horse people I know who haven't had to treat for it.
Well that is downright terrifying. Not even sure we have a Lyme vaccine for horses here, but will ask my vet tomorrow since he is coming to vaccinate my horses.

I don't know of the prevalence of Lyme in horses in my area but know two people who got Lyme's so clearly, it's among us. I just think that the local vets and horse owners often don't test for it. No vet has ever suggested it to me despite the fact that my horses have run the gamut of weird symptoms. I have never heard of anyone in my area having a horse with Lyme either. But surely, it must be here.
 

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There’s not a horse Lyme vaccination here either; some vets will use dog version off label and booster every year.
 

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There’s not a horse Lyme vaccination here either; some vets will use dog version off label and booster every year.
Interesting. I'll ask, but they might not be wiling/able to do that here. How effective is this vaccine?
 

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I can’t say I’ve seen any efficacy studies, since this is an off label use. But, I haven’t really looked for one ;) My vet’s anecdotal perspective if that it’s more effective than not for her clients, with no real side effects she’s observed, so worth hedging your bets.

My three have all had Lyme prior to vaccinations. They have not tested positive since vaccination. Natural antibodies from the severity of their previous infections? Vaccine? I guess we’ll never know.
 

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I also vaccinate my horses with the dog lyme vaccine. Been doing it for 5 years for cinder 2 years for ice. Neither have gotten lyme disease since they've been vaccinated.

New vet I use is fine with doing the dog lyme vaccine for horses. We are in a lyme disease hot spot.

I use the spot on freedom 45 helps but not a cure. Garlic does absolutely nothing to keep ticks off.

Frontline is expensive and doesn't work. Used it on my dogs an they had ticks that were full of blood and still alive. Useless expensive stuff. Freedom 45 for dogs kept my dogs tick free an half the price of frontline. Everyone I know who has dogs says same thing frontline doesn't work.

Haven't seen any ticks yet an it's been mid 60 almost 70 degrees. Yesterday an today are cold but back to mid 60s by Friday. My horses are almost shed out very thin winter coats left.
 

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My three have all had Lyme prior to vaccinations. They have not tested positive since vaccination. Natural antibodies from the severity of their previous infections? Vaccine? I guess we’ll never know.
Same here both horse had lyme disease before I had them vaccinated. Neither have tested positive since vaccine. So vaccine must work! 😁
 

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I'm not sure how a vaccinated horse couldn't always test positive afterwards as the test is looking for Borrelia antibodies in the blood.

From the Cornell website
  1. OspA – positive values for antibodies to OspA are typically observed in vaccinated horses. OspA is expressed while B. burgdorferi persists in the tick mid-gut and also while the bacteria are cultured in-vitro. During infection of mammalian hosts, the bacteria down-regulate OspA. Therefore, antibodies to OspA are generally undetectable after natural infection in most non-vaccinated horses. Low positive, transient antibody values to OspA can sometimes be detected three weeks after infection12.
  2. OspC – is a valuable indicator of early infection with B. burgdorferi. Antibodies to OspC are detected as early as three weeks after infection. Antibodies to OspC decline after seven to eleven weeks and become undetectable by four to five months after infection12,14.
  3. OspF – is an indicator of chronic infection. Antibodies to OspF are detectable by five to eight weeks after infection and are maintained at high levels afterwards. Researchers at Cornell observed a very high agreement between antibodies to OspF and C6 as robust markers for infection12,14. Horses with positive antibody values to OspF and negative antibody values to OspC are considered to be infected with B. burgdorferi for at least five months (Fig. 3).

And their opinion on the use in horses of the vaccination approved for dogs

An approved Lyme vaccine for horses is currently not available. Horses are sometimes vaccinated with one of the three available Lyme vaccines for dogs for attempted protection of horses that are housed in Lyme endemic areas. Efficacy studies of canine vaccines in horses are not yet available, but experimental data suggested that anti-OspA antibodies are protective in horses.

All available vaccines contain OspA antigen as the sole or one of the vaccine components. Antibodies to OspA are identified by the Equine Lyme Multiplex Assay to determine the vaccination status in vaccinated horses. To provide our clients with the best interpretation for each animal, we need information on the vaccine used. This includes the name of the vaccine and the date when the horse was last vaccinated. Please include this information on the submission form when samples of vaccinated horses are submitted for testing.

Recent studies indicate that horses can respond to the canine vaccines, but the responses are typically short-lived17,18. It is therefore recommended to vaccinate horses in close proximity to tick season, approximately four weeks before ticks are typically abundant in the area. Additionally, confirmatory testing is recommended after vaccination of horses since low OspA antibody responses have been observed in individual horses.

High OspA antibody values are sometimes observed in non-vaccinated horses (less than 5% of the submitted cases at the AHDC). These cases have been identified previously by Western blotting and are also detected by Equine Lyme Multiplex testing. It is not yet known where these antibodies originate from or what their biological role is in horses with positive OspC and/or OspF antibody values to B. burgdorferi.


Lyme Disease Multiplex Testing for Horses | Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

I wouldn't dismiss the vaccine but I wouldn't use it instead of other tick control since ticks carry other diseases.

I have found that a dab of Frontline on each pastern and on the underside of the head is effective
Ticks are also very susceptible to the permethrins found in most equine fly sprays
 

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Permethrins don't keep ticks off horses. If fly sprays worked which not one water based one does. Guess if 2 minutes of effectiveness considered effective total joke.

That's why my horses come home from riding covered in ticks a lot already attached ,because permethrins work ticks think it's something to drink.

Only effective fly sprays are oil based,there effectiveness is limited but last an hour ,compared to the lousy 2 mins water based last.

Only time I fly spray is before going riding. Spray only last an hour so not worth spraying them to stand in pasture grazing. They have tails so can use them.

Called good marketing on fly sprays. guess if you only have a few flys an a few ticks it works. But not where I live.
 

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Permethrins don't keep ticks off horses. If fly sprays worked which not one water based one does. Guess if 2 minutes of effectiveness considered effective total joke.

That's why my horses come home from riding covered in ticks a lot already attached ,because permethrins work ticks think it's something to drink.

Only effective fly sprays are oil based,there effectiveness is limited but last an hour ,compared to the lousy 2 mins water based last.

Only time I fly spray is before going riding. Spray only last an hour so not worth spraying them to stand in pasture grazing. They have tails so can use them.

Called good marketing on fly sprays. guess if you only have a few flys an a few ticks it works. But not where I live.
Permethrin’s aren’t a deterrent, they’re an insecticide.
The ticks can often still attach but the permethrin will still kill them.

The oil or water doesn’t make any difference to the effectiveness of the active chemical, it just affects the length of time it remains on the coat, particularly in rain or if the horse sweats.

Some of the cheaper products don’t have enough strength of chemical in them to work.
 

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Permethrins don't work that's why ticks drop off full of blood still alive and well,On a permethrin treated horse. Like I said don't waste my money on permethrin sprays.

To each there own. Permethrins don't work here so end of discussion.
 

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@jaydee, I didn't want to go down the rabbit hole of Lyme testing, but you're absolutely right, after vaccination they will show OspA antibody values on the multiplex, which mine didn't show after infection but before vaccination. After vaccination, they did show OspA hits. Our current vet does a Lyme clinic every February to get ready for tick season (which is already here, despite still having substantial snowpack and a winter where we saw 6 feet of snow).

At various points in the past, mine were "Lyme positive" via OspC or OspF, and sometimes both at once. Two of my three fully cleared their chronic values after a two-stage antibiotic treatment (IV tetracycline for 5 days followed by 30 days of doxy); one of my three cleared her acute values after the same two-stage antibiotic protocol yet still had intermittent chronic values for a period of time after, but much reduced. She may never fully clear the chronic values, but they were very, very low after vaccination and she's always been asymptomatic, even when testing + acute.

In my experience, no topicals or flea collars work on the dogs or horses here. We do an edible flea/tick/heartworm prevention for the dog, and that does prevent the ticks from embedding after they get on him. It's constant defense against the ticks, and the nasty diseases they carry. And I won't even get started on the extraordinary lengths human friends of mine have gone to trying to get some relief from the ways Lyme and other tick borne diseases have affected them.
 

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We’ve had two dogs permanently affected by Lyme and I still think it contributed to problems one of the horses had. I’ve had it twice.
I’m not sure if what appear to be recurring problems are just new infections.

Our dogs are all vaccinated every year but I do use a topical treatment that reduces risk of ticks crawling around the house and on to us. They seem to work based on the dead ones we pick up.

Our CT vet was reluctant to use the dog vaccine on the horses as trials on how long it remained effective didn’t seem consistent.
While the vaccine is in its effective stage the horse should have antibodies to help fight off new infections.
 

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I've fed garlic powder to our 4 horses for the last 4-5 years, initially as a fly repellent. It doesn't seem to do much for flies but I never find ticks on my horses so I have continued feeding garlic. We're in a Lyme area and I know of several friend's horses which have been treated for Lyme. I feed the lowest recommended rate and have seen no adverse effects on our horses.
 

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I actually had this conversation with a vet today. After the ride on Saturday I went out to see Duke yesterday and while doing using a shedding blade it snagged on a bump. On closer inspection it was a tick. Then I found another. I ran my hand down the neck and chest and legs and felt multiple bumps. OMG I pulled off around 15 off of him and found multiple bite sites with no tick on them. The flies are not out yet. So I know we picked them up from the ride. We must have went over a tick nest or something. Makes me itch just thinking about it.
Anyway when I talked to the vet, she said that the ticks carry a bacteria that our immune system react to causing the Lyme disease as we know it. The dogs and horses immune system doesn’t seem to be as reactive as humans. So while it’s possible for horses to get sick. They generally don’t show any symptoms. She said there was a study done with bloodwork. That anytime any blood sample came in, it was automatically tested to Lyme, and out of a study that lasted a year they found one horse positions, and this horse had effects on him.
They have things like bravecto for dogs, to kills the ticks off once they bite. But nothing similar for horses. Now she did say that the ear tag for cattle comes impregnated with insect repellent, including ticks. And some people put them on the halters or braid them in the main to deter ticks. She did recommend strong fly repellent too
 

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One thing that has to be mentioned is the importance of being able to identify the different ticks.

The really large ones that we find easily are usually ‘dog ticks’ that can transmit diseases but not Lyme Disease.
The Deer ticks are small, the size of a sesame seed, even when adult and full of blood, the nymph stages are tiny and really easy to miss.

 
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