Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

Rainscald Misery
Q: My Thoroughbred mare suffers form rainscald. I have tried a supplement and a couple of creams for hair re-growth.

I keep a rug on her as much as possible and have her rugs cleaned regularly. I have also stopped giving her garlic as someone suggested that this may help. However despite all my efforts, nothing has helped.

A: A rainscald is a bacterial infection of the skin. Normally cases are cured quickly with antibiotic washes but it sounds as if your horse if having a particularly difficult time.

The main problem may be a depleted immune system, which is unable to fight off superficial infections. When the immune system is weak it can be almost impossible to get rid of even relatively simple problems.

My usual recommendation in such cases is the use of Cedar based supplements which provides an excellent action when combined with other herbs which help the skin.

Ringworm and other fungal infections also respond well. There are many other herbs which have a strong effective action against such bacteria but, in my experience nothing beats cedar in such cases.

We use a combination of four products: a powder as a food supplement to tackle the problem from the inside and a wash in a strong liquid form to tackle the bacteria from the outside. We also use specific creams for local spots helpful with more severe problem areas and immune system support formulas. I would not worry too much about garlic. Although not all horses are suited to the plant, only a very small number will experience a worsening of skin conditions it fed too much garlic.

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