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Help! My horse looks like a leper!

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  • Help! My horse looks like a leper!

    I'm in new territory with what seems like a very skin/hair sensitive horse after the previous one seemed impervious to rubs (aside from girth area, his only "chestnut tendency). New OTTB has rubs every where and little nip marks from playing in the field (with blankets ON!). Saddle fitted, blankets fit, still rubbing. Even starting to get bald from where my leg lies when I ride (I'm not a gripper with my legs, very quiet) and on his neck from the reins... He's got a nice 3"x3" spot from when he was on IV fluids for colic back at the end of December (guard hairs are there, but not much else).

    He hasn't really started shedding yet. I curry him before every ride and have been trying to keep the skin moisturized in the balding areas with Horseman's Dream (has aloe in it). I added 1c flax seed to his feed back in January, without his summer coat I've yet to see a noticeable difference. His winter coat(what's left!) has a decent shine to it. He's on an oat/corn/12% sweet feed mix (I'm not a fan of the corn, keep trying to see if BO will change it to no avail), Sel+E and electrolyte supplements. Full turnout with 24/7 access to nice grass hay. I've also tried putting "shine" spray on his shoulders to help with the blanket rubs and a shoulder guard (slinkie made them worse ).

    I've heard MSM can help with skin issues. I hate to add more supplements to his pile if they are not necessary. Switch to cocosoya oil instead of the flax (he's not a huge fan of eating all of it)? Slather him silicone? Start buying stock in fleece?

  • #2
    About the only thing I can think of is to add up the amount of selenium he's receiving from feed, supplements, etc. Too much (the average horse should not consume more than 3mg a day) can cause problems with their coat, among other things.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Heliodoro View Post

      He hasn't really started shedding yet. I curry him before every ride and have been trying to keep the skin moisturized in the balding areas with Horseman's Dream (has aloe in it). I added 1c flax seed to his feed back in January, without his summer coat I've yet to see a noticeable difference. His winter coat(what's left!) has a decent shine to it. He's on an oat/corn/12% sweet feed mix (I'm not a fan of the corn, keep trying to see if BO will change it to no avail), Sel+E and electrolyte supplements. Full turnout with 24/7 access to nice grass hay. I've also tried putting "shine" spray on his shoulders to help with the blanket rubs and a shoulder guard (slinkie made them worse ).

      I've heard MSM can help with skin issues. I hate to add more supplements to his pile if they are not necessary. Switch to cocosoya oil instead of the flax (he's not a huge fan of eating all of it)? Slather him silicone? Start buying stock in fleece?

      Try a Bossy Bib rather than the "slinkie" style

      I was going to suggest more flax, but if he doesn't eat it, it's not much use (a vet study [which I can no longer find in the bazillion flax "hits"] reported maximum "effects" with 1-2 pounds milled flax per day: effects measured were for skin & anti-inflammatory process, though I don't recall the methodology details). You can try flax oil but then there is more issue with product stability & more $$$

      Have you spoken with your vet (is there an equine dermatologist in your area or one that your vet confers with?).

      This equine dermatology paper might gve you some ideas: you can always print it off & discuss it with your vet (who then may be motivated to find some studies more specific to your horses condition)

      Re the corn sweet feed, I'd take him off that & supply something more suitable - even if you can only feed it on the days you're out (just remember to always feed a couple pounds of hay or alfalfa etc cubes along with the concentrate feed), this would likely be better: sometimes hair loss occurs due to non-specific allergies (ie the allergy is not related to the blankets or whatever is on your leg but something else in the environment). I prefer whole grains rather than pelleted or extruded feeds, as I know more accurately what I'm feeding (this is important if allergies are actually involved).

      I'd be careful with any topicals as they are seldom hypoallergenic or particularly effective (though they can relieve itching, localized inflammation etc if properly formulated).

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      • #4
        Welcome to my world. I'm on my second one of these guys. I'm a bit of an expert now.

        First off, it isn't THAT unusual for an OTTB to kinda freak out, skin and coat wise, in the first 6 months or so off the track. And, I think this guy is in his first year off the track, right? So, don't panic JUST YET.

        Also, I do find that long winter coats (or even clipped winter coats) can get very, very dry and brittle this time of year, as can their skin, so even fairly tough horses seem to get rubbed by everything. Putting things on them (goops, shoulder guards, etc) can help, so keep up. I prefer Chamois Butter, though, as it is intended to help things glide and not chafe. Also, keep everything VERY CLEAN (easier said than done). Blankets stay clean, horse stays clean, your boots and half chaps stay clean. On my old horse, who was prone to rubs if his coat got long and/or any kind of dirty, did much better if I kept him and his things exceptionally clean (he got lots of baths).

        Diet wise, if you are stuck, you're stuck (ideally, you'd get him on something high fat/high fiber). A higher quality diet may make all the difference in the world (Toby's skin FREAKED OUT when I stupidly put him on a locally milled grain after being on high quality stuff...took awhile, but it turned around when I got him back on Pennfield). So, try to find him SOME fat that he will eat. I do love Cocosoya and have had good success. I prefer the oil (so I can adjust exactly how much I feed. Toby gets 8oz a day), but Smartpak carries it in a powder/granule, too. SmartShine Ultra is another good product that I had great success with for Vernon (he was actually their poster boy for awhile). I also like the SmartOmega. BUT, I do think the Cocosoya is best (and better than flax, personally). If he'll eat it, it is a great place to start.

        I do feed MSM for Toby's skin. I am unsure how much it REALLY helps....but, honestly, I'm afraid to stop it because we've had a relatively good year with his skin! I think I would be inclined to at least get through the shedding season and see what happens with a new coat and a new season before adding it. You might find that once he's shed, his skin might calm down and be more normal.

        Last thing, good grooming with liberal use of a rub rag. I'm SURE you know this, but grooming brings up the good oils in their skin, which helps keep their skin from getting too dry and brings out their shine. It also keeps the grit out, which will help keep rubs from getting out of control. I do spritz and rub in a baby oil/water concoction which I think might help a bit (like putting on bath oil after a shower for us). But, I wouldn't use too much other stuff, especially if he tends toward dry and flaky. Less is more with those guys.

        Good luck! It doesn't sound like allergies (hives and things) are a problem, so be glad! This may be a temporary thing, but even if it is not, it isn't too hard to manage.
        Amanda

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