Holistic Horsekeeping Newsletter April 2016

April 2016

3 natural ways to help your horse overcome sweet itch

Holistic Horsekeeping
How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 21, Number 4


In This Issue:

1. 3 natural ways to help your horse overcome sweet itch
2. Learn More About Horse Temperament Typing


1. 3 natural ways to help your horse overcome sweet itch
Madalyn with horseSweet itch is a skin condition that causes extreme itching. It is caused by a sensitivity to the bite of the culicoides gnat. Sweet itch is a seasonal condition that comes and goes with the activity of the gnats. The whole body can be affected but the mane and tail area are generally more involved. This condition causes extreme misery to the unfortunate horse that has to endure the constant and extreme itching. The usual conventional approach to sweet itch is steroid drugs to decrease the immune response to the gnat bite. The challenge with this approach is that it is palliative and one can expect to see the condition worsen each season, requiring higher and higher doses of the drugs.

Here are 3 natural ways to help you horse overcome sweet itch. With a natural approach you are strengthening your horse’s immune system and helping him develop a tolerance to the gnat bite. With a natural approach horses see less itching each season and they can potentially overcome the condition completely.

1. Lower the sugar and starch levels in the diet – High sugar and starch feeds upset the bacterial flora in the digestive tract, setting up a very unhealthy gut environment. Since 80% of the immune system is based in the gastrointestinal system, anything that upsets the health of the gut will affect the horse’s immunity. New research suggests that T cell immunity is what allows some horses to develop a tolerance to the gnat bite. Without healthy T cells horses remain sensitive to the gnat bites. This same system could be the reason some horses develop tolerance to intestinal worms while others remain shedders. Holding affected horses off rich pasture is one way to avoid high sugar loads. Some hays can be high sugar so testing hay is a good idea. I use www.equi-analytical.com for testing. The goal is not to feed any feed that has a sugar + starch level over 10%. Beware that most bagged feeds that claim to be “low starch” actually contain higher levels than are good so call the company and make sure.

2. Feed blue green algae – I learned years ago that feeding a product containing probiotics and blue green algae helped horses overcome sweet itch. Now with the new research on T cell involvement with the immune response it is easier to understand why the algae helps. AFA blue green algae has been proven to increase the production of T immune cells. The algae does not stop the itching once it has started but if the product is continued through the winter time, horses tend to have much less trouble the following spring when the gnats start biting.

3. Give your horse a run in shed with a strong fan – Gnats are tiny creatures. Sometimes they are called “no see ums” because they are almost invisible. Gnats have trouble flying when the wind is blowing so a fan will help keep them off your horse. Gnats don’t like to be in covered areas so having a stall or run in for your horse to get away is a great idea. Even on windy days you will want to make sure your horse is getting under cover in the dawn and dusk times when the wind is quiet.

These 3 natural ways to help your horse overcome sweet itch have worked the best for me. The goal is to help horses build tolerance so they no longer react to the gnat bite. There are some helpful things you can do to help your horse deal with the itching. Unfortunately, I have seen clients spend money on fly sheets and masks but the horses still itch. Homeopathic remedies can give some temporary relief to itching but they don’t work long term unless the diet and management is also changed. Fly repellents and anti-itch creams can be supportive until your horse can develop a tolerance to the gnat bites. Nitro Pro is a supplement that has a strong but natural anti-inflammatory effect by increasing nitric oxide levels in the blood. It can give some horses good relief. If you address these areas you can save your horse immense suffering and build his immune system at the same time.

2. Learn More About Horse Temperament Typing
Caring for your horse according to his own individual needs starts with having an understanding of the type he is. In the Horse Harmony book you gain an understanding of the different temperament types and how best to work with and care for each. The sequel to Horse Harmony is Horse Harmony: The Feeding Guide that goes more into the nutritional needs of each temperament type. If you are looking to gain deeper insight into the personality of your horse, how to care for him or her based on individual needs, and how to work with or just get along with your horse better, this information is for you. Here are some of the resources we have available to help you discover your horse’s temperament type and to help you establish a better relationship with your horse.

Introduction to Five Element Types and Temperaments

Horse Temperament Balancing Formulas

Horse Harmony Kindle book

Horse Harmony and Horse Harmony: The Feeding Guide paperback books, ebooks, and audios

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