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Causes of Tail Rubbing
Tail rubbing normally has one of three main causes: pinworms, sweet itch, and dry or dirty skin. We’ll look at each of these causes and their solutions one by one.
The Diagnosis: These worms are more difficult to diagnose than most. While fecal egg counts can be done to find evidence of most other types of worms, pinworm eggs are laid in the anus, so they aren’t always expelled in the manure. Scrapings might have to be done of the anus and examined microscopically. Another clue is finding the dead female pinworms in the horse’s manure; these are long, white, stringy little nasties about 15cm in length.
The Solution: Pinworms are sensitive to ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate. However, just dosing with the anthelmintic isn’t guaranteed to work due to the growing problem of worm resistance. Should a dose of the appropriate dewormer fail to solve your horse’s problem, consult your vet, as your worms might be resistant – in which case deworming again will only compound the problem.
The Diagnosis: There is no real way to test for sweet itch, other than to treat for the condition and see if there is any improvement. Skin scrapings can be useful to rule out other causes for similar itchiness, such as mange or a fungal infection like rain scald.
The Solution: Because sweet itch is an allergy, it can’t be cured, but it can be managed. The first step is to try to prevent midges from biting your horse. In some cases a good quality fly spray, applied daily, will be good enough; in
The Diagnosis: Again, a skin scraping can be taken to rule out other causes of itchiness, but generally diagnosis is easy. Part the hair on your horse’s tail and have a good look at the skin in there. Horse dandruff presents itself as giant white flakes; the skin under the tail hairs should be soft and clean, but if it’s scaly or flaky, your horse probably has dry skin.
The Solution: This is an easier fix than most others, luckily for your horse. As with anything with horses, beauty comes from the inside out: consult a nutritionist to ensure that your horse is getting enough oil in his diet. A supplement can occasionally be useful. Then start to apply some elbow grease. Start with a good shampooing, making sure to scrub deeply into the hair to clean everything out well. Then condition the tail to restore its natural shine and leave the hair clean and silky. Finish up with a soothing, broad-spectrum lotion to treat and prevent dryness and other skin conditions.