I've tried it all and my horse still itches!

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  • Karabou142 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Hi I have a 6 year old quarter horse who is in full time training and is stalled almost all day, I come and ride about 4 or more times a week and try to turn him out on those days. He has been with my trainer since he was a 2 year old and has said to be “always itchy” but my trainer thinks it’s gotten worse in the last year since I bought him. He’s gotten to the point where he itches himself raw and has completely destroyed his mane! He is shown almost every weekend and gets his mane banded for the time being then I take the bands out or he itches them out and destroys his mane even more! He constantly itches when he is turned out or in his stall! I and my trainer brush him regularly and I rinse him after every ride. I also try to give him a bath weekly cause that seems to help. I had been applying coconut oil on him but that didn’t seem to do anything. We also made a mixture of listerine and apple cider vinegar and sprayed that on him. That also didn’t seem to help. At the beginning I tried not giving him as many baths so he wouldn’t get dried out, then I tired doing iodine shampoos and anti fungal baths because I thought it could be that. I also use my own EVERYTHING and wash it regularly! My horse is wormed as he should be as well as the other horses in the barn. He is also on a complete supplement bought from smartpak that has smartshine or smartcoat in it (I’m not positive on the name). I’m open to suggestions but it seems I’ve tried it all! The next thing I’m going to do if it’s not taken care of soon is call my vet out!

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Some horses just don’t do well in stalls. Have you tried pasture boarding him? It could be a mental “thing” rather than a “physical” thing. He may be very bored in a stall, or it could be the confinement that he can’t handle.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Agree with G&S – one of our mares does this when she is kept in the barn. Is he getting enough flax seed in his diet? That might help if it isn’t a boredom issue. My boy also rubs when in the barn, so he is on field board – no itching.

    It is never the horse's fault

    Karabou142 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 1

    Thank you for the ideas but sadly he itches outside also. I will try adding flax seed though!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Has the vet ruled out some physical reason for this? If it has been going on for a long time, it might even be a nervous habit like weaving or cribbing. Maybe you could try something like SmartCalm?

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Itching while he is turned out, but not turned out 24/7, does not necessarily eliminate stalling as the problem. Have you tried pasture boarding him for a week or 2 By himself & with another horse? If he has established negative activities as a reaction to being stalled, he will not necessarily change the now ingrained behavior when he is turned out, partially because he knows he will be put back in a stall within a few hours. It sounds like you have eliminated all the usual physical causes, so what is left is mental causes, the same ones that can result in cribbing or weaving. Once a behavior pattern is firmly established, it is seldom dis-established overnight.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 6

    I am in the same boat! My mare is 22 and has become worse over time. She chews her belly raw if she gets one tiny sore that the flies cause. I have done heavy worming after reading about neck threadworms and it seemed to help at first, but now back to ridiculous itching. She breaks out in bumps too here and there. I have tried supplements with dried apple cider vinegar and yeast, herbs, shampoos, fly sheets, enviroment changes, coconut oil, ointments, etc. My next option is the vet again, but a different one and possible allergy shots. The flax does help a bit too. I get the stuff at Costco that is milled flaxseed. No heat used in processing. Not a cure all though. Let me know what your vet says. Thanks!

    Topics Started: 1Replies Posted: 4

    I deal with the same thing. Turned out to be “neck threadworms” (I don’t recall the scientific name). Do some research and have a biopsy done by your vet. I haven’t found a cure, but just several things to help manage the situation, such as a daily wormer and allergy shots. I understand the disadvantages of a daily wormer, but my horse was desperate, and the pros outweighed the cons.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    My horse used to be an itch monster, too. However, I had a clue as to what was wrong because one (and only one) of her eyes seemed to water quite a bit. I asked my vet if she had allergies – and he said possibly so. He recommended I try (sorry smartpak!) the skin/allergy supplement made by Platinum Performance. It’s a little expensive (around $96/jar), but it lasts a couple of months.

    That stuff has made such a difference! I’ve discovered that, here in Texas I only have to give it to her from April-October. But, it has markedly reduced her itching (and no eye/nose runny-ness).

    It may not be the solution for you – but, it made a huge difference for her. I also use one of the smarpack coat supplements and did reduce the baths… but the biggest difference was the allergy formula.

    It can’t hurt.

    Kathy D Kathy D
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 4

    As a groom (back in my day) we would see a lot of this. I personally think its something in their diet/allergy or maybe even a habit. I wash my horses with Orvus.. (love the stuff) then I use healthy Coat (the pink stuff that you mix with water). Then hood/sleezy him.. As long as you know he’s not having an allergy to something… I know with training horse they will sweat under their mane line and just rinsing them didn’t work. Ask your trainer/groom to wash his mane every other day…… Just my 2 cents

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 25

    My gelding was very itchy and flax seed did work wonders. If you decide to try flax seed, it is important to feed fresh or stabilized ground flax seed or most of the seeds will be pooped out whole and won’t do any good! Ground flax seed is very unstable so that won’t help either, unless freshly ground. I use a stabilized ground flax seed product made by HorseTech (Glänzen, or in my case, Glänzen Lite) that really helped him. I am not guaranteeing that flax seed will cure your horse, but if you decide to use flax seed, make sure you use a product that will work.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    Listerine has alcohol which can dry, apply cider vinegar helps in fungus but some can be sensitive, coconut oil can be good but too much can irritate the issue. Flax is good for skin but you want to make sure it’s a stabilized flax or it will lose some of it beneficial effectiveness in storage.
    If it is not an allergy which I recommend you check with your vet it may be an imbalance in skin ph.

    I have uses pure tea tree oil in the past for skin itching. You can dilute it in a carrier oil but I Wld not get it predicted as some of the carrier oils irritate. Pure tea tree does not sting at all. Another product I have tried Ina clean rinsed mane is parnevu
    It an herbal t-tree grow treatment for ethnic women. A little goes a long way. But it helped with any dry, itchy, red, Rashi, irritated, skin. It also helped with breakage and smooth down the hair. I also put it in my horses tail as he would scratch it on a fence post and rub it off, Even though he had been tested and treated for worms. I did not use it every day, I only used it once a week or every three days after rinsing off after a ride. But I do not show every weekend. It’s rather inexpensive and worth a try. Good luck keep us posted on what you you find out.

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 1

    My horse had a similar problem, although he was itchy all over. While I was feeding him a highly respected supplement, it became obvious that he was allergic to one or more of the ingredients after I switched him to a different supplement. I’ve seen others mention allergies, and that could very well be the issue for your horse.
    Another possibility, one I don’t believe has been mentioned yet, might be the bedding being used. This would also fall into the “allergy” category. There are many options on the market and you might try switching to rule out the current bedding as being the culprit of the itching.
    Best of luck in finding the solution!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 2

    In my experience (I have been at this for a LONG TIME, LOL – I am old) itchy skin is almost always a gut issue. As I have faced this problem myself, I can and do empathize with all our itchy friends and what WE think are behavioral issues. Believe me, when your gut is inflamed normal behavior goes right out the window. I know this first hand. It becomes increasingly difficult to focus on anything other than being miserable, and it does not always show in an obvious way on the outside so we think things are OK. Not gonna show up on a blood report either usually. Sometimes allergy testing reveals issues, but if the gut was sound the allergies would not be there in the first place. Consider yourself lucky that this has not worsened to something like ulcers or colic. As another person already mentioned, Platinum Performance Skin and Allergy was used to some success, so I looked up the ingredients. Sure enough, Omega 3 DHA and Quercetin (an antihistamine), plus thymus extract to level out immune function. When the gut is irritated the body produces excess histamine and there is sometimes neutrophil “invasion” which releases proteases, a natural healing response to the irritation. This produces low level inflammation that becomes chronic in the gut unless something is done to break the cycle, and that is hard to do since our guys have to keep eating which sometimes keeps things irritated. (this is a simple explanation – it actually is quite complex) I have seen major improvements (although not totally fixed) in my worst horse (horrible food allergies, diarrhea, itching, hives, mouth sores and swelling, skin sores, hair loss, lamanitis since age 2 – he is now 15) by adding stabilized rice bran (about 1 1/2 cups a day), 1/2 cup ground flaxseed (I get the one from Triple Crown Feeds), 1/4 cup coconut oil (to help absorb the fats and other nutrients better which are needed and necessary for proper prostaglandin balance), and the amino acid L-Citrulline (3 grms daily), which blocks, to some degree, the neutrophil invasion and helps restore blood flow by increasing nitric oxide production. Additionally I make my own horse feed by using high quality alfalfa pellets as the base. Alfalfa has some antihistamine properties and high levels of vitamin K. Could this be why our horses usually crave it? Doing this does require some effort on my part to make sure they get the proper balance of nutrients. I add whey protein and gelatin (human grade) in a relatively small amount to boost amino acids naturally and help with tissue repair. Each of my boys gets an apple a day (quercetin) and 1 (medicinal, LOL!) peppermint candy which contains real peppermint oil and tumeric for the color. This stopped my colic prone horse from having tummy issues just like that. Peppermint oil is very powerful, and very little is usually needed. They also love Meadow Mints as a treat. My personal opinion is that most horse feeds just do not have the wholesome ingredients that we ultimately would like to feed our guys. I decided to stop feeding my horses what are often the “sweepings from the floor” of the feed mills, doctored up with inferior ingredients for palatability and low quality synthetic vitamins and amino acids, and sometimes harmful ingredients as preservatives. IMHO food sources for these nutrients are always best and provide a synergy that individualized nutrients lack. Others here mentioned turn out, and that can be critical if the horse can find in his pasture various forages that (believe me) they know they need. (Watch them go for the dandelions in the spring as a liver tonic.) These brilliant animals make every effort to get what their bodies tell them is needed. Unfortunately they cannot always get what they need in a domestic situation. So sometimes a high quality supplement might be necessary. They are all individual in what they need… and in my experience I have learned to watch and listen to what they do, what they eat, and what they don’t eat to gain clues as to how to better help them. Not trying to sound like a know-it-all, but having researched this for myself, (when doctors could not help me in spite of a diagnosis) I have been able to improve my two remaining horses’ quality of life by applying some of what helped me as well. We are not that different from our beloved companions. If something I have suggested here helps your guy or any other horse (or dog, person, cat…. or any pet) then I will sleep better knowing that one less is suffering from the misery of this common problem. All the best! Getting off the soapbox now, LOL!

    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    I have a mare that has always been super itchy and like you tried everything. First we thought it was flies and kept trying different brands of fly spray but didn’t have any luck with the itching. I tried different coat moisturizers, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, shea butter, etc., but was only slightly able to reduce the scratching with the shea butter. This summer I moved to a different barn and within a week the itching was gone and I haven’t had any other problems. She still gets the exact same hay, grain, and supplements so it had to be something in the pasture she was allergic to (she was on 24/7 turnout). Since you said your horse has been with your trainer since he was 2 it may be something on the property causing him to react. Changing his bedding type, turnout (grass to dry lot), or anything else you can think of may be able to give you answers. As a last resort you could try moving him elsewhere for a couple weeks but thats never an easy solution. A vet, while expensive, may be a good option. They run an allergy panel and find out what the cause is and he can receive allergy shots from those results that should help him overcome any reactions to his allergy. Good luck and don’t give up!

    Only perfect practice makes perfect.

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