Veterinary Subjects.

Sweet Itch,


having a pony with sweet itch takes alot of work and dedication.  Anybody buying an equine please be careful and look out for the tell tale signs of Sweet Itch (remember it is not cureable). In the summer it is easy to spot, if a horse/pony has Sweet Itch they will be allergic to the midge fly bite or more accurately to the saliva that goes into the bite. The poor horse/pony will start to itch and they will do anything to rub that itch away  - fences, posts, gates, trees and hedges and this continues until open sores appear and still the horse/pony will continue to itch. There is no relief for them, we can try lotions and potions, there are many on the market, if it helps then that is fine, but they are only a small part of the fight you have to help your horse/pony with this horrible reaction.    As well as open sores they will also lose mane and tails, if this continues without treatment or care then the skin will start thickening and hair will no longer grow.  In winter it is harder to tell if a horse/pony has sweet itch -  some of the mane and tail may have grown back and the current owner may tell you it was just from ordinary rubbing, winter coats hide a multitude of sins, always get your hands in there, feel for scabs, lumps and bumps etc.


So what can we do to help our horse/pony with Sweet Itch? The season used to be from April to October, but now with milder winters the midges are out there longer.  I like to get my Sweet Itch rugs on in the first weeks of March, weather permitting. A pony wearing a rug designed for Sweet Itch sufferers. 


This rug is made of a close weave canvas (not waterproof) - the neck and shoulders are lined with silk and the belly wraps right around to help protect the tummy. This of course does not protect the face and an additional face mask with a very fine mesh also has to be worn. I personally find this rug better worn when the weather is not so hot as it is quite heavy and the material has no give, so the rug must be removed often to check beneath. There are other rugs on the market including Boett and Pagony, both are made from a light breathable, stretch fabric, they have face masks and other attachments that help, depending on the severity of the Sweet Itch. I like to use these rugs in the hot weather (of course your horse/pony should always have access to shelter and water). I have never found a rug that did it all and so I tend to customise Lily’s rugs and they are very much a work in progress. Apart from the rugs, what else can be done?  It is important to keep your horse/pony clean, (midges love a dirty horse/pony).  This does not just involve washing but a good grooming regime is important too.  If you notice a sore, deal with it immediately, there are many lotions and potions out there, try a variety as some work better than others on different equines. I find that fly and midge sprays last only for as long as it takes for it to evaporate, but always keep an open mind, these items may help you as part of your regime. Finally, having started my Sweet Itch regime for the coming season, I now am looking to start Lily’s Schooling,