0817Singapore  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. 

White scales in horse mane and lumps on neckThe horse had been rubbing its mane under the white bars, causing more damage to its skin under the mane hair.

Both sides of the neck affected.
The left side of the neck showed the same small lumps and ulcers, the smell of blood from the ulcers attracting flies.

Tail end hairlessTail end loses hair too. How to solve this problem? "The horse in the next stable does not get the problem," said the stable manager.  

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 down skin. 

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 maintained.

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 so.  

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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