horse itchiness pruritusracehorse thoroughbred pet health and welfare educational for animal
lovers, excerpts from The
Glamorous Vets, Singapore, sponsored by AsiaHomes Internet.
What caused the itchiness?
What does a 450-kg horse do when it feels itchy? Does it scratch its
body non-stop? Yes, it does. It has have to relieve their
itchiness which must be unbearable.
The syces (stablehands) get blamed, the flies get blamed, the stable
manager gets blamed despite fumigation and changing of the wood shavings
which are used as bedding for the horses stabled in Singapore.
In this stable of 50 horses, around 6 horses were affected over a period
of 3 months. The cases increased over this period of time as not all
were affected at the same time.
"Older ones and younger ones were affected too," said the stable
manager. Apparently there were no such cases in the past years.
"The lesions and the distribution of the lesions did not tally with
poor unhygienic grooming or the urticarial lumps which spread all over the
body in circular raised lumps," said the stable manager.
horse had been rubbing its mane under the white bars, causing more damage
to its skin under the mane hair.
The left side of the neck showed the same small lumps and ulcers, the
smell of blood from the ulcers attracting flies.
end loses hair too. How to solve this problem? "The horse in the next
stable does not get the problem," said the stable
Something has gone into the bloodstream and caused hypersensitivity at the
neck, mane and tail areas? The horse weaved its head against the
stable bar, bit its tail, rubbed its mane below the bar so every few
minutes. The bacterial and fungal micro-organisms infect the broken
What's the cause? The stable manager believed that it was the
introduction of a new feed vitamin concentrate. Yet only six horses were
affected and the horse in the next stable would not be affected.
"Can't blame the flies biting the horses," he said as he
did fumigate regularly and his stables are unusually free from
flies. Not many mosquitoes around too as this stable was very well
Approximately 10% of the population was affected but this was a small
population. Were horses not being given hard work affected more than
those given hard work? The stable manager seemed to think
This was really a difficult problem to solve. Tail biting in
racehorses were not seen in the Singapore Turf Club in the 8 years I was
there. The Club had over 500 horses in its hey day. These horses in
the riding club were retired from racing and the "young" ones
were still older than 5 years old. Could this be a problem of a
delayed hypersensitivity as the immune system of the horse was
depressed? Certainly, this horse I examined had very pale mucous
membranes in its mouth, indicating anaemia.
The cause? Nobody knows. There are various factors causing
itchiness but I suspect that the affected horses had their immune system
suppressed or it was over reactive. Blood tests for the increase in
immunogolbulins causing allergies might help but then the cost of serology
would be too prohibitive. The cause still would be unknown
too. Owners with such horses may have to be alert as to what they
feed their horses. It may be best to stick to the basic horse ration
and not introduce additives.
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