In the Saddle: Sweet Itch isn't so sweet...

Lyndsey Tune holds Anita's horse 'Sully' for the vet
Lyndsey Tune holds Anita's horse 'Sully' for the vet

It's been another busy week here with the horses. We have been investigating for a condition called Sweet itch on my Appaloosa 'Sully'. I first noticed warning signs on him at the start of summer, where he was rubbing his mane and tail.

The condition in horses, also known as Pruritus, describes the unpleasant sensation that leads horses to bite, scratch or rub at their skin. 

Sometimes the sensation is so strong that horses will cause severe damage to themselves or their environment, while in extreme cases, horses cannot tolerate tack on their skin, let alone a rider.

Sweet itch is known to result from the stimulation of special nerve endings and receptors in the skin. In the horse, the three main factors inducing itchy skin are ectoparasites (such as biting insects), infections and allergies.

The vet, Richard, from Moorhouse Equine vets was booked to do a number of tests on Sully. My horse had to be sedated as a number of injections had to be given which can be distressing.

My friend, Lyndsey (shown in the photo) helped hold him and we took it in turns, stroking his face. He had 21 injections. It should have been 23 I think but the vet's assistant dropped some of the vials and broke them on the scene so a few more have to be carried out at a later date.

We waited and watched the reaction to a number of things such as flies, midges, cats, dogs, grass and flower pollen to name but a few.

My horse is definitely allergic to rye grass pollen and midges, household flies, horse flies -some flower pollen and wheat with pigeons coming out as a possibility too.

I was right to call the vet and going forward he will need to be injected weekly to build up his resistance for the following summer.

We are waiting for the injections to be made up specifically for him. I'll let you know how it goes.