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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.

Itchy and Scratchy
Q I have a seven-year old Thoroughbred who has extremely sensitive skin. He has developed bald patches where the reins touch his neck and where my legs touch his sides.

The skin is dry and the hair rubs off. Also, after working for a while, he develops an itchy nose which he has to scratch. Can you suggest any herbal products? I live in South Africa and homoeopathy is quite a big thing here.

A.I would suggest that you try a few simple supplements to try to improve your horse's skin condition. Marigold flowers, goosegrass (cleavers), burdock roots and nettles would be useful to start with. You might be able to find them in a cheap dried form in South Africa.

I would also suggest some dried seaweed every day to help with mineral imbalance. It might also help to take good quality seeds - sunflower, sesame, pumpkin and flax (twice as much as the others) - grind them together well in a coffee grinder each day and mix them in with the horse's feed. In the case of your horse's itching, I think that fresh (wilted) stinging nettles would be best, although I do not know whether they grow in your country.

I would also consider trying to boost your horse's liver with some dandelion roots if you can find them. As far as homoeopathy goes, this complementary therapy deals with the individual personality of your horse, and you are better discussing this in full with a qualified local practitioner so that the right match can be made. Some of the common remedies used are arsenicum album 6c and sulphur 6c. It could be an allergy to pollen that is causing your horse's problem. If you suspect this is the case try a mixed pollen formula from South Africa or maybe adding some local honey to his feed would also do the job. .

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