GNATS. DOES ANYONE like them?
While I find them a nuisance, Indy, I think, has an allergic reaction to gnat bites.
Termed “sweet itch” by horse owners, I figured it was the source of Indy’s intense desires to scratch his neck and belly.
It was while scouring the internet for ideas about scratching posts for horses that I discovered Indy might not have sweet itch.
It could be something more invasive such as a neck threadworm called onchocerca.
Onchocerca is gnat larva that enters the skin though a bite where it becomes a parasite that lives in the horse’s neck in the nuchal ligament — a ligament that runs the full length of the neck — from poll to withers.
Apparently, most horses have onchocerca.
For many, they’re not a problem, but some horses develop a reaction to their microscopic larvae (the microfilariae).
This is known as onchocerciasis.
The horses become itchy, mostly around the head, neck, chest, shoulders and underside of the belly, which is why we horse owners often make the assumption our horse has sweet itch.
More than just gross
Worse still, not only can those parasites be the cause of intense itching, but left untreated, it can actually cause blindness. Yikes.
So how do I know if Indy has the allergic reaction or the parasite?
The truth is he could have both.
I suppose I could have called my veterinarian to come to the property to examine and test Indy, but from what I read, getting rid of the parasite seems fairly easy through dosing him with a Moxidectin-based wormer.
It’s been a few weeks now since I wormed both him and Lacey.
I’m certain his itching is now at a more normal level.
His mane is growing back beautifully.
I’m about to give him a second dose to kill off any larva that might have hatched in the meantime, but then I will wait at least until spring before worming him again because I also don’t want to overworm him, which is another topic in itself.
• Baker Stables 2016-17 Belt Buckle schooling shows — Oct. 30, Nov. 13, Feb. 19 and April 23 starting at 10 a.m.
Classes cost $5 each.
Anyone who attends all four shows in the series will be given the chance to win a beautiful silver belt buckle.
Ribbons will go out to sixth place and high point awards at each show.
The indoor arena is at 164 Four Winds Road, Port Angeles.
For more information, call 360-457-6039 or 360-460-7832.
• Freedom Farms Hoofbeats schooling get together — Nov. 12 at 9 a.m.
These days will include the following show-type activities: equitation on the flat walk only, equitation on the flat walk trot, equitation on the flat w/t/c, equitation over fences trot poles, equitation over fences cross rail, equitation over fences 2 feet, equitation over fences 3 feet jumpers cross rail, jumper 2b 2 feet, jumper 2b 3 feet, obstacle and bareback dollar bill.
The indoor arena is at 493 Spring Farm Road, Agnew.
For more information, call 360-457-4897.
Karen Griffiths’ column, Peninsula Horseplay, appears the second and fourth Sunday of each month.
If you have a horse event, clinic or seminar you would like listed, please email Griffiths at [email protected] at least two weeks in advance. You can also write Griffiths at PDN, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362.