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PSA - The itching horse

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  • PSA - The itching horse

    I posted a few weeks ago about my itchy beyond itchy horse. He has a high fat diet, gleaming coat, and fly sheets just seemed to make it worse, not better.

    To the suggestion of my vet, I began sponging him with a combination of 2 cap fulls Listerine to 1/4 bucket of water after every ride. He gets hosed off as normal, then sponged with the dilution every single ride. After one week I saw 100% improvement in his itchiness. No new sores on his face, no rubbed coat, mane, or tail.

    Nothing else has changed.

    When he sees me with that bucket and sponge, no lie he starts nickering and as I'm sponging the solution over him he stretches his head down and out, slightly closing his eyes as if it is heaven (he's a very expressive guy to begin with).

    So, I encourage you all with itchy horses to give it a try, it certainly can't hurt.

    My vet did say that it must be Listerine (the Antiseptic kind), or a product with the same active ingredients. Scope and the like do not work.
    My adventures as a working rider


  • #2
    Sharing this with my BO.

    Her TB is constantly itching.


    • #3
      I've posted to COTH many times about Listerine (original brown stuff). It is an excellent knat repellent. It's made of several plant extracts. It repels knats. Knat bites (knat saliva) can cause extreme itching for many horses so they rub the itchy areas and destroy manes, tails and skin. You can take the easy way out and just spray the Listerine directly on the horse as a repellent. but I imagine the sponging also removes the sweat and leaves some of the Listerine behind which REPELS the knats.

      I am horribly reactive to knat bites also so I understand how those horses feel. I keep a spray bottle of Listerine in the barn and in the horse trailer so I can squirt horse AND myself liberally as needed. Doesn't work on flies but will also work on mosquitos.

      Oh, the cheaper CVS version also works well.



      • #4
        Generic Listerine has been great for stopping itchy tails. I find I can work it into the top 1/3 of the dock 2x/week and no tail rubbing.

        I think its killing the gnarly microbes that make horses itch.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat


        • #5
          Thanks for the PSA! My itchy horse doesn't rub. No mussed up mane or tail. No rubs on body. No sores. It's almost as if the itchiness is internal, under the skin. However, I will get some Listerine today. Can't hurt. Thanks!
          Fox Wood Farm


          • #6
            The listerine definitely kills microbes, @ mvp. No small wonder it stops itching. It's used to stop/kill adult onchocerca, which is far more prevalent than most people would assume.
            AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


            • #7
              Thanks for the info! I will be trying this on my guys as well.


              • #8
                Daughter's morgan will be benefiting from this idea.......Central PA is gnat central this year UGH


                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by mvp View Post
                  Generic Listerine has been great for stopping itchy tails. I find I can work it into the top 1/3 of the dock 2x/week and no tail rubbing.

                  I think its killing the gnarly microbes that make horses itch.
                  The tail solution is why my vet said to try a whole body wash. He thought that given the fact that it doesn't seem to be from flies (fly sheets make it worse) that maybe it was the same thing that the listerine is killing on tails, just all over his whole body.
                  My adventures as a working rider



                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by Fox Wood Farm View Post
                    Thanks for the PSA! My itchy horse doesn't rub. No mussed up mane or tail. No rubs on body. No sores. It's almost as if the itchiness is internal, under the skin. However, I will get some Listerine today. Can't hurt. Thanks!
                    My horse will itch during the winter, but not rub. He does a similar thing with the currying to the point where he starts rocking back and forth. Either way, that has completely stopped since listerine started. He still likes to be curried but it's not out of control, and mostly just on his belly now.
                    My adventures as a working rider



                    • #11
                      150 years ago, some kind of British Horse Society-certified instructor worked at a hinky-bad summer camp I attended. She was a through-and-through horsewoman, even for ratty like poor kids like the ones we were.

                      She showed us how to use dilute PineSol to clean around/between the horse's butt crack and t'ain't. This was to be done after any ride as part of a regular bath.

                      And when I was quacking about how well I'd take care of my own horse when I finally got one, she said "Then you take care of every horse you ride until then so that you learn how." She was so serious and her advice so take-able, even by me as a kid, that I held onto her mantra.

                      Heck, I read this forum because I *still* do that-- mooch knowledge from you guys and import it back to my horse.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat


                      • #12
                        Listerine has menthol, which is soothing. there is also a salicylate in it- I wonder if that works like salicylic acid on skin. Works for my weird skin stuff...

                        I get my generic listerine from the dollar store Can also be used for bucket cleaning & as a brace.


                        • #13
                          Way back in ye olde times when I was a kid, we'd use it as a brace. I still keep it in the barn in a bottle and have sprayed it into the top of an itchy tail and sort of worked it in with my fingertips - I always assumed it was soothing somehow since we used it as a brace when kids. Guess the menthol feels good!
                          "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran


                          • #14
                            Thank you for the tip about the original (brown) antiseptic form of Listerine! I'd always poo-poohed the tips about Listerine for itchy horses, having seen folks use the sweet, flavored versions of Listerine mouthwash instead, with very sticky, equivocal results. I'll have to give this another go for my insanely itchy horse.

                            I'd love to get the rubbing in check before she rubs off the last few braidable wisps of mane she's got left on parts of her neck!
                            Evolutionary science by day; keeping a certain red mare from winning a Darwin award the rest of the time!


                            • #15
                              I picked up my bottle today. Bath tomorrow morning.
                              I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                              • Original Poster

                                To anyone who is trying it out, please report back with your results. I'm honestly curious to your experiences.
                                My adventures as a working rider



                                • #17
                                  Nick. I am going to use it to rinse the top of their tails. I think they are sunburned there, but slathering on sunscreen does not seem to stop rubbing.

                                  When you say 2 caps in 1/4 bucket, do you mean 5 gal drinking type bucket or those smaller round 3 gallon buckets? Asking because one of mine is thin skinned and sensitive.
                                  Last edited by ToTheNines; Aug. 11, 2014, 02:42 PM.
                                  Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.


                                  • #18
                                    Me, too, OP! What size bucket are you indicating? My horse gets techtcy about what gets on him, so I have to have my ducks lined up in order to reason with him!

                                    Also, is it the blue Listerine, or the brown Listerine that we should use? Txs!


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Water bucket sized - 5 Gal. I'm sure you can adjust to your horse's needs/sensitivity pretty easily. I think the blue or brown would work equally fine. They have the same active ingredients, just make sure you get the antiseptic kind. I actually got the costco brand version last week, it also has same active ingredients.
                                      My adventures as a working rider



                                      • #20
                                        Interesting idea.

                                        Has anyone had any problems with this? It seems like it would dry out the skin.