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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010

    Default Help for itchy, bug crazy horse

    My new mare has been itchy since I got her in April. Itchy everywhere above her knees/hocks. Skin looks good, and coat is lovely. Vet looked at her and wonders if she just really appreciates being brushed and is expressive. Recently though she started really rubbing her tail, and throws her body against the stall wall or shelter to rub her body.

    I do know her teats get itchy, so I wash them, and her bum daily which she seems to enjoy.

    She also goes nuts about bugs. Wasn't much of a problem until lately, but enough of one that I haven't dared leave her out all night.

    As of Sunday, the Mosquitoes have gotten much worse, and she is being driven insane despite my best efforts; she is in a fly sheet with neck cover 24/7, and wears a fly mask outside. I put SWAT on her face, teats and other minimal hair areas, and spray the rest in Super Shield. I have started not turning her out until 8am, and bringing her in before the bugs get bad (between 3 and 9 depending on weather). She is out in a pen just outside the barn that is mostly dirt, and has a shelter to herself; she spends most of her day in there.

    I tried Dex to help with the itching, but it did not help. Vet is getting me a powerful antihistamine to try next. Any other ideas to help with the itching? I have tried stop itch lotion for horses, dewormed with Quest Plus and bathed in anti-bacterial soap for horses.

    Any advice to help with the bugs though? She is getting difficult to be around, and even cut her hind legs kicking at herself. Even in the ring if she flicks footing up she gets upset; i feel really bad for her, although she tries to focus when we get going, and really tries to not whip me with her tail when grooming. It isn't like she is being bitten like crazy; no horse fly bites, and maybe one or two mosquitoe bites are all I have noticed. She just hates the feel of them it seems.

    Would love to try the blankets with the inserts, but those aren't allowed in Canada yet. Anyone tried the Off Clip ons for people on a horse?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug. 25, 2000


    Our mares should talk! Mine has the Rambo Bugsoff sheet w/ belly and neck wrap when she's turned out. But the belly wrap doesn't go back as far as her teats. I've been hosing her teats to get any sweat/dirt off and coating with aloe Vera. Then, I lightly spray sensitive skin Off and use Pyrahnna zero bite on the rest. The deet keeps the Mosquitos and gnats at bay and the geraniol in the other spray keeps the flies off. When she's in the fly sheet comes off because it's been too hot.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 25, 2006
    out west


    Mosquito halt works for my mare. We get them around dusk, so I keep an eye on her out the window and if I see her running around I know it is the squeeters! Then I run out there with the mosquito halt! They don't seem to bother my geldings.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2009


    Poor girl

    Does she have a fan on her stall?

    Have you tried her on 1-2lb's of flax per day (start with 1/4 cup & increase over 1-2 weeks: I'd hold her at 1lb for at least a week before deciding to increase to 2 lb) - there's a vet paper somewhere on effects of flax on external inflammatory response.
    (I like to balance the flax with BOSS but don't recall what the recommendation was in the study, or if they even considered omega ratios)

    When FP had major itches, this product was the only thing that seemed to give him relief.

    If she's sensitive/allergic, just one bug bite could make her incredibly itchy.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2005


    B1 is supposed to have bug repellant properties. Lavender essential oil also has repellant properties as well as itch relief properties.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr. 16, 2009


    Sounds like you're doing most things I've done.

    I find the big fly sheet/neck covers and long nose mask with ears to be the most effective for my horse. I spray on top of the sheet using an oily home brew spray. Makes the sheet kind of nasty but gnats/ticks avoid the oil. I also keep fans on in the stalls.

    This is the first summer I'm trying the Hilton Herbs, "Bye-Bye Itch" herbal supplement which contains diatomaceous earth. It's hard to tell if it's helping but so far I'm having a pretty easy bug allergy season.

    I also worm a little more frequently in the summer. If you haven't wormed recently, you may want to worm with ivermectin/equimax and observe for a reaction.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 28, 2008


    A while ago I bought a gallon jug of an oatmeal shampoo meant to relieve itching from fleas for dogs & cats. Its not medicated and I think its not even technically soap, not entirely sure there. I believe I bought it from Uckele, they suggested it for itchy horses, but Uckele doesn't seem to carry it any longer.

    Anyhow, it works amazing for reliving the itching. My geldings get themselves in an itching frenzy too sometimes. Like your mare, they're not being bitten to smithereens, but they get wound up over being itchy and become obsessive about it. Especially when its hot and humid and they're sweaty, rubbing every inch of themselves on every available surface. My Morgan will get carried away and fling himself into bushes, etc., and my older gelding will swing his head around and bonk his noggin on tree trunks, etc.

    I use a very stiff grooming mitt that is basically a big brillo pad, or a sacrificial cactus cloth, and really give them a good hard scrub, until my shoulders hurt, with the shampoo and let it sit on their skin for a few minutes before rinsing.

    If its a humid nasty day I'll give them an extra rinse with Absorbine Refreshmint in water with some white vinegar splashed in too.

    The nice itch free effect seems to last 4-6 days before they're getting irritable again.
    “I am sorry negativity, I have no time for you. I have far too many positive things to do.”

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr. 2, 2004
    Louisville, KY


    Definitely start with an oatmeal bath to get her more comfortable. My mare is allergic to the sand gnats down here, so she is wrapped up in a fly sheet anytime not in her stall with the fan. She is also getting hydroxizine daily to keep her from breaking out in hives, and I've started feeding her bug check. It truly has made a difference. There are definitely fewer bugs in her stall and on her than the other horses not on it.
    Strong promoter of READING the entire post before responding.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010


    No fan in her stall. Just not needed here for temperature control (barn is insulated/cool in summer), so our barn isn't set up for them. Not sure a fan would help that much anyway as the bugs aren't bad in the barn and I have started spraying down the walls and shavings with bug spray.

    Will look into the Mosquito Halt; I haven't seen it before.

    Will look into the flax and other suppliments as well.

    Never thought to use the Oatmeal shampoo on her. I had thought that was more for dandruff type coat issues...her coat is really lovely, but it is worth a try! I think I even have some somewhere with our dog stuff I could try.

    Thanks for the ideas!

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