How to deal with the most commonly seen skin conditions
Guard your horse’s outer layer this winter with our guide to the most common seasonal skin conditions. Vet Alistair Love MRCVS explains the facts
THE WINTER MONTHS ARE NO friend to skin. Not only are we nursing our own chaffed hands and chapped lips, but our horses become more susceptible to a range of skin-related complaints. The cold, damp weather makes your horse’s warm body an attractive breeding ground for bugs, while more regular rugging, stable time and clipping also take their toll on the largest organ of the body.
What are they? Lice are an incredibly common skin parasite — the most prolific being Damalinia equi, a chewing louse, and Haematopinus, a sucking louse. If you weren’t feeling queasy enough already, equine lice will also bite people. However, they can’t survive off the horse for long. Lice are easily transmitted from horse to horse, preferring to lay eggs on long hair. High temperatures affect the louse’s ability to breed, which means winter is the perfect time for them to thrive and hop easily from stabled horse to horse. How to spot them: Lice can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, but it’s the horse’s reaction that will be most noticeable. Affected equines will rub the mane and tail, chew their flanks and may also rub their head and poll. In some cases, though, a horse may not appear particularly bothered, despite carrying lice. Prevention/treatment: Louse powders can be used periodically as a repellent, but don’t work well for treatment purposes. Once a horse is infested, insecticidal shampoos are most effective. Treatments need to be applied to the whole coat and carried out every seven to 14 days for a minimum of one month.
Applying a barrier cream can help prevent mud fever
Lice b ite h orses and people JANUARY 2019