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.

Sensitive skin
Q: I would like some advise on treating my Thoroughbred geldings sensitive skin. His coat has lost its shine and he has a number of bald patches on his shoulders, girth area and behind the saddle.

He also has what looks like rainscald on his rump although he is always rugged up on cold or wet days. I have had his saddle checked and it fits OK. I've also changed his girth and tried a girth sleeve and anti-rub vest with no luck.

A: Your horse's problems may be related to a low-grade skin infection with the bacteria that causes rainscald and mud fever. There is also likely to be a mineral imbalance present which may be weakening your horse's immune system and reducing the quality of his skins defences.

This will also result in a lack of oils being produced in the skin. My normal approach in such situations is to use a good mineral and vitamin formula as you can afford. Use products to increase the availability of essential fatty acids in the diet and treat any underlying skin infection. In addition to a standard vitamin and mineral formula you might try seaweed as this provides a good source of minerals.

To replenish oils in the coat, you could use an essential oil product such as skin rite from Animal Alternatives. In my opinion the most effective formula for managing bacteria in the skin is an ayurvedic formula.

In addition to these supplements I would also advise the use of ayurvedic liver tonic. This can help to right such conditions in some situations and results in better oil production in the coat. Hibiscrub, which is available from your vet, may also do the trick in killing off deep-rooted skin infections.


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