Nowadays, with the advent of Boett rugs, it is possible to turn out horses that suffer from sweet itch. This condition is an allergic reaction to the saliva of the biting midge so in addition to the physical barrier of a sweet itch rug, there are other steps you can take to minimise your horse’s exposure to this horribly irritating condition.
- Avoid turnout at dawn and dusk as this is when the midges are at their worst
- Try not to stable or graze near standing water so ditches or ponds
- Treat inflamed and sore areas to relieve discomfort and irritation, the more he scratches the more it itches, a vicious circle
- Use dietary supplements to promote healthy skin and calm the over-response of the immune system
Sweet itch is all about tackling the physical symptoms and manifestation of sore skin by trying to prevent exposure as far is practical. But also essential is the ability to influence the horse internally which is the root of the problem, the two go hand in hand.
So many minor ailments in the horse can be managed if not solved totally by effective husbandry, physical interventions and supportive dietary supplements. These can reduce or even eliminate the requirement for veterinary intervention which can bring with it other side effects and problems. Never allow a situation to spiral out of control and always seek veterinary advice if you are uncertain. In some cases where the issue has run away with the owner, more aggressive interference may be needed to get the problem back on track and to prevent the horse from suffering. Thereafter, horses can often be managed very successfully with a combination of intelligent, informed horsemanship of which dietary supplementation is a key element.