CASE: Cinder, 16-year-old rescue pony
CONDITION: Hair loss and crusty sores from chin to udder
In an effort to relieve her itching, Cinder nearly rubbed off her mane. Sores and bare spots on her skin were evident.
Cinder’s Sweet Itch stemmed from the fact that California had had a very wet, mild winter, bugs were plentiful and the trainer caring for her was no longer following the healthy diet her owner had requested. Cinder’s supplements had been withheld and given to another horse, and as a result the elderly pony had a very compromised immune system.
It was clear to see the pony was in pain and constantly itchy. Her mane and tail had been rubbed so severely they, too, bore hairless spots and were full of scabs.
Cinder was immediately moved to a new barn where she was in a sand paddock instead of being on grass, enabling her to heal away from bugs. A vet prescribed short-term antibiotics as some of the sores appeared to be infected.
Cinder’s owner, Anna, put her pony back on a diet that would foster healing. Anna began grinding flax seed daily, added Spirulina, Kelp, Rosehips, and Dandelion leaves to her diet, and withheld all sweets including sweet feed and sugary treats. She also stopped the Alfalfa hay and put her on 100% grass hay. Additional supplements included Fish Oil, Vit.E and Vit.C. All were capsules or chewable wafers purchased from Costco.
To help make Cinder less palatable to bugs, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and granulated garlic were added to her feed. With a healthy diet now in place, Anna worked diligently to help Cinder’s body heal and get the insatiable itching under control.
Anna invested in a full coverage fly sheet that included a belly band and a neck cover. Although the mesh was not fine enough to deter the midges, it did prevent larger flies from irritating Cinder’s body and minimized her rubbing.
To prevent infection, heal the skin, decrease itching, and re-grow hair:
1. Each day began with a mild tea tree wash. Anna diluted a few drops of tea tree essential oil in a bucket of water and gently sponged Cinder’s sores.
2. Once this dried, she applied a natural topical solution specifically created to stop itches and heal the skin. Over this, an itch relief salve was applied for double coverage and to create a barrier against the midges. Key ingredients to look for to relieve itching include Chamomile, Chickweed, Calendula, and Aloe Vera.
3. The same steps were done for the mane and tail and the salve was gently massaged deep into the roots of the hair.
4. The final step was a thorough top to bottom spraying with a natural fly spray. Again, read the ingredient list; if it’s a mile long with words you can’t pronounce, move on to another product.
Applying only natural products to an immune-compromised horse is very important. They are already dealing with so many issues internally, coating them with chemicals only adds to their problems.
ONE MONTH LATER
Within 30 days, Cinder was a new pony. She had blossomed under the daily care of her owner and her body was clearly on the path to full healing. Her raw spots were diminished to just a few by her udder; her mane was growing in thickly, and her tail was glorious. The itching had stopped, the sores had healed, and the hairless areas from her chin to her udder had a fine covering of jet black hair.
Today, Cinder resides in a large covered sand paddock, has pasture access for a few hours daily and enjoys trail rides along the California coast. Anna continues to maintain Cinder’s healthy diet, keeping the pony on all of the healthful herbs that helped her beat Sweet Itch and made her less tasty to the bugs. A good natural fly spray is applied daily and any spots that appear along Cinder’s midline are immediately treated with an anti-itch salve or spray.
Cinder’s body was suffering from an overload of bug infestation and had nothing on the inside to fight it. Once Anna provided the internal fuel and applied the proper external products, nature did the rest.
Georgette Topakas lives in Santa Barbara, CA with her human and animal family. She is owner and founder of Zephyr’s Garden, offering equine and canine herbal-based topical products. www.ZephyrsGarden.com
Others who read this article have also inquired about: equine massage, equine health, horse health, equine therapy and holistic horse. Holistic Horse magazine is your guide to natural horse health. www.holistichorse.com