Wondering why your horses mane and tail looks a little rough and not as shiny and healthy as it did before? Most horse owners would love for their own favorite pal to have a luxurious, thick, long, beautiful and shiny mane and tail. Some horse owners will even go to great lengths to make their horse’s mane and tail look and remain beautiful. It doesn’t matter that you have great dreams for your horse, don’t be surprised when you walk to the barn to find your horse’s tail worn and tattered from itching and rubbing.
What is Main and Tail Itching?
Mane and tail itching and rubbing is a common condition that horse owners encounter time and time again. We can think of only a few things that make a horse owner frustrated, if no other than seeing horse’s mane and tail turned into a mess. When you notice your horse’s tail tattered and worn, you begin to wonder why his tail is tattered and the measures you can put in place to prevent future occurrence.
What are the Common Causes?
There are a number of reasons why your horse rubs his tail but before we get to them, let’s start by answering some questions.
- Does your horse rub his tail very often?
- Is this his first time?
- Does he rub his tail every now and then or it’s peculiar to certain times of the tear?
It’s important to answer these questions as that will help you take proper measures to prevent future occurrences.
Here are some common reasons.
Boredom – Boredom is considered a minor cause of tail itching and it’s a result of too much stall confinement. When confined for too long, some horses develop the habit of running their tail along a hay rack or fence line. If you suspect that your horse rubs his tail because of boredom, then try to give him more room to run and explore outside. Also, you can provide him a horse toy for mental stimulation.
Insect Hypersensitivity – Sweet Itch – If you notice that your horse rubs its tail more during hot periods, the underlying cause is culicoides midge bites. Culicoides are known as sand gnats; the biting insect that makes the horse hypersensitive to its saliva. This condition is commonly known as sweet itch. You will often see horses that are affected by sweet itch rub their manes, tails and skin in an attempt to relieve the itching.
Dirty Sheath or Udder – Horses also rub their tails when their udders or sheaths is dirty. The production of smegma is peculiar to all horses so when enough of the substance builds up, irritation and itching occurs. This brings your horse to tail rubbing. Smegma is a thick, black substance that is composed of natural oils and dead skin cells mixed with dust and dirt from the environment of the horse. This smegma builds up in the folds of the horse’s genitalia and when enough has built up, the horse rubs the tail in an attempt to ease the irritation and itching from the sheaths or udders. Some horses produce more smegma and your horse could be one of them. So ensure you check his genitalia regularly to clean build up.
Dry, Itchy Skin – If your horse has a flaky or dry skin, he can become itchy and start to rub his tail in an attempt to ease the itchiness. Many horse owners bath their horses very often in other to relieve dryness and soothe the skin not knowing that shampoo can worsen the situation. The next time you want to bathe your horse, use a gentle moisturizing lotion such as Medicated Shampoo and rinse his body thoroughly. Studies have shown that hot and dry weather contributes to flaky skin. Horses that get flaky and dry skin during the summer can benefit from omega 3 & 6 fatty acids enriched foods.
Ticks – While ticks are not a common cause of mane & tail itching, they cause irritation and itching to the anus, tailbone, sheath and tail head of your horse. Happy Horse Neem Horse can come to the rescue here by forming a barrier of protection on your horse’s body.
You can eliminate ticks in the barn environment through effective management methods. Make a habit of clearing the grasses around the barns and paddocks regularly to reduce tick populations and also prevent other wildlife that are the carriers of tick from entering your property.
Pin worms – Pinworms, otherwise known as Internal parasites can cause tail rubbing. The parasite associated with tail rubbing is Oxyuris equi which is the parasite that causes rectal irritation. Pinworms are present more in younger horses but can be seen in adult horses too.
Pregnant pinworms move from the intestines to the anus to lay their eggs around the anus. You may find dirty yellow or white crusts lying around the rectum when eggs has been laid.
Within 3-5days, the eggs become infective and they fall off the rectum. Horses also deposit pinworms eggs in their stall or pasture through body rubbing against the fence, water troughs or feeders. A horse is infected with pinworm when he eats the pinworm larvae accidentally while eating hay or grazing. A horse can also get infected when he rubs his face on the rear end of an infected horse.
Since pinworm eggs aren’t excreted through manure, conducting a fecal examination will not likely indicate the presence of pinworms. If you have a feeling that your horse has been infected with pinworms, consult your veterinarian to have him checked.
As you can see, mane & tail itching is caused by a number of reasons. You made need to assume the position of a detective and experiment a little to ascertain the root cause of the itching. If unsure, consult your veterinarian for clarification.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR MANE & TAIL ITCHING?
To attack the problem from all angles, it’s important that you:
Wash the entire anus, Tail head and genital area with Happy Horse medicated shampoo. The Neem Oil, Arnica, Chamomile, Pine Bark & Cherry Bark composition of the cleanser will help to soothe the itch and reduce inflammation. Let the cleanser sit for one hour.
Then rinse the parts thoroughly with water and apply the skin lotion mixture to the entire dock. Make sure to apply the lotion daily, and apply shampoo as often as possible to keep the area clean during treatment.
Finally, protect your horse by applying Happy Horse Cold Pressed Neem Oil Horse on the body.