Agri Vehicles Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Talk to me of Sweet Itch  (Read 868 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« on: March 06, 2021, 09:45:36 pm »
So, of all the Fell ponies that are currently available and I would be prepared to afford, every one that is already fully ridable (and old enough to carry me about) is a mare and has a sweet itch story...

One is on Deosect.  That's a no-no here, can't have poop with insecticide in it all over our fields (and veg.) 

One needs only a rug.

Another only changed hands last summer, had mild sweet itch on her neck at the time of sale, easily sorted with cream (yet to find out what cream but will get that info tomorrow) and a rug.  The place she came from was quite midgey and she is not now in a midgey spot, so they thought they might not have any more problem with it - but of course it's too soon to say, really.

It isn't an especially midgey place here, most of our fields are quite open, and we are on a hilltop and usually windswept.  So a pony which needed a rug in the occasional muggy (and hence more midgey) times might not be a problem.

But... I"ve never had a pony with sweet itch, so (again) there will be things I don't know...   
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2021, 07:09:23 am »
My concern would be that itís a symptom and not a lone condition. One of my mums horses had been pampered following an injury and now suffers every year, has a thick crest and lamanitic rings. Itís annoyingly for him, he ends up with small cuts where he sometimes chooses to scratch on barbed wire or thorns. These can last ages as are rescratched open and Iím not convinced he heals well. Heís also struggled with other inflammation responses to horsefly bites in the past, sometimes resulting in lumps or sores which took months to go down. Vet sees him regularly and chemicals and medications used.

https://www.heltieanimal.com/en-gb/blog/why-insulin-resistance-is-often-mistaken-for-sweet-itch/

Iíd be checking they donít have any other traits of this as the cheaper purchase price may result in ending up paying more in vet bills and tests.
That said, all older ponies have a history and perhaps itís inevitable theyíve got something like this. Itís great the owners have been honest and told you about it.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2021, 09:19:44 am »
They say the best time to sell a horse with sweet itch is the end of winter when the mane and tail have grown back  :thinking:


I'm not quite sure I understand about Steph Hen's comment about it being a symptom and not a lone condition? Sweet Itch is a recurring condition, currently has no cure although a vaccine was in the pipeline, I think. Treatment is around alleviating the suffering of the animal. I can understand the overlap of itching with Insulin Resistance but a blood test would presumably confirm if this was the issue or sweet itch.


It may be very mild and you might keep a pony comfortable by creams, rugs and management and it may stay mild. Or it may get increasingly worse year on year and for the affected animal life becomes pretty unbearable.


With ponies that have severe sweet itch the skin at the base of the mane and tail can thicken and although the hair grows back over winter it will be uneven in length and choppy so you can look at this but I go back to my initial comment.


We had a mare develop sweet itch on a summer loan way back in the foot and mouth outbreak. She was better back with us but it did gradually worsen over the years and even keeping her in during midge season she would rub in the stable. We kept in under control and she was rideable throughout her life. I once took in a youngster to ride and it rubbed itself raw in no time. We are not particularly midgey at all but a bit like a group of people out on a summer evening some will react to midges and others wont.


My thoughts on whether you should take a pony with a known sweet itch problem or not - I think you are perfectly capable of managing the condition but what you don't know is how, even with good management, the severity of the condition or how it will progress. More importantly you have described in detail on other posts how you manage your land and animals, grazing and housing and interaction within species is clearly important to you. You have two ponies and one could end up dictating how both are kept for example being kept in during midge time. So for me it is more about how it potentially affects your management and routines generally and for the ponies long term.


SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2021, 01:56:16 pm »
My thoughts on whether you should take a pony with a known sweet itch problem or not - I think you are perfectly capable of managing the condition but what you don't know is how, even with good management, the severity of the condition or how it will progress. More importantly you have described in detail on other posts how you manage your land and animals, grazing and housing and interaction within species is clearly important to you. You have two ponies and one could end up dictating how both are kept for example being kept in during midge time. So for me it is more about how it potentially affects your management and routines generally and for the ponies long term.

I love TAS  :)

Very insightful. thought-provoking input.  Thank you so much harmony  :-*
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2021, 02:10:25 pm »
Iíd be checking they donít have any other traits of this as the cheaper purchase price may result in ending up paying more in vet bills and tests.
That said, all older ponies have a history and perhaps itís inevitable theyíve got something like this. Itís great the owners have been honest and told you about it.

With buying at the moment and not being able to travel to test ride in person, and the price of ridden Fells at the moment, I am thinking it would be bonkers to not get a full vet inspection, so it may be that some of my possibles become unavailable once I mention arranging the vet...  ;p

Your last line has made me really think.  2 of the mares are a bit pricey, imo, given the sweet itch, but from the detail being given on all her available ponies I have a lot of faith that she's being totally open and honest.  But a bit more cost up front for something unlikely to have hidden problems is probably where I would be better off overall... :thinking:  However, I do think I want to avoid the sweet itch, especially given harmony's insight about it potentially impacting Flossie's quality of life...

And ponies being sold now at rising 4 and 5, either backed or lightly ridden, which are of course much more affordable, could feasibly have had a touch if sweet itch last year, hence being moved on...

Yeuk, it's a terrifying prospect! 

I think I have to just keep looking, and perhaps wait until well into midge season to buy, unless someone offers me a lwvtb or sale-or-return type deal...

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2021, 03:08:55 pm »
I keep seeing this thread go past, and I'm convinced it's the title for Sally's newly published book of romantic poems  :o .
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2021, 05:04:36 pm »
I think that sweet itch is possibly considered an unsoundness and sellers should declare it.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2021, 05:19:10 pm »
I think that sweet itch is possibly considered an unsoundness and sellers should declare it.

I have seen that said as I googled.  A vet would certainly mention it in any vetting.


Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2021, 05:19:36 pm »
I keep seeing this thread go past, and I'm convinced it's the title for Sally's newly published book of romantic poems  :o .

 :roflanim:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2021, 08:28:52 pm »
I bought a mule with sweet itch. I purchased her in early spring when she had a lovely glossy blemish free coat. But this deteriorated as the year went on and by early summer I realised what the problem was. I used various things, most of them natural, to deter the midges. But I had to apply every day, or next morning there would be another bare patch of skin. It kept it under some sort of control but not 100%.
Then I started using pig oil (ie liquid paraffin) with sulphur. I reasoned that if it got rid of feather mites on the legs of hairy cobs, then there was a good chance it might deter midges. And it did! I would trickle it along Ebony's mane and all along her back, and rub it into her sides. She really loved this and I ended up with really soft hands. It used to soak in fairly rapidly so she didn't remain greasy all day, and best of all it would last for about 2 weeks so I didn't have to apply it daily. However, there were numerous accounts in the equine press about pig oil causing extensive burns on horses. I never had a problem with Ebony, even though she was black so her coat used to get really hot in the sun. But even so  - I was aware it might cause a problem.


So although the pig oil and sulphur was incredibly effective and easy to apply, I was still looking for something that was 100% fool proof.
I had for many years used homeopathy on my sheep and cattle. That is not to say I didn't call a vet in when necessary eg for physical treatment such as treating a broken leg, or help with a difficult calving or lambing. But I found homeopathy very effective for such as a fertility problem in one cow, a urinary infection in another, and treating sarcoids on my  cob pony, amongst others. (I must admit however that I've never found Corpse Reviver particularly effective!)


I rang my homeopathics supplier and asked if they did a Sweet Itch  remedy and they did! It was mid summer when I first tried it. I gave Ebony a few drops each day on a carrot and it kept the Sweet Itch at bay for the rest of the season, although you could still see slight bare patches from where she had got bitten in spring as I hadn't started early enough with the pig oil/sulphur.


Ebony's coat grew again in winter and the next Spring I started giving her the homeopathic remedy in March before the midges were about. I gave it her every day on a carrot until about August and then maybe every couple of days till the end of September. In all that time there were no bare patches or itching and so the remedy really was effective. I don't know if it made her unattractive to the midges or if it made her resistant to the midge saliva so she no longer reacted to it. But it certainly worked.


You will read and be told by anyone that has had an animal with Sweet Itch that there is no effective treatment (apart from a Boet rug) and certainly no cure. I would say that either of the treatments above are about as close to a cure as you can get, and I would certainly not be worried about buying another animal that suffered from it.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

harmony

  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2021, 07:33:49 pm »
I too have had good results with homeopathy for different animals. My friend successfully managed a pony with Cushings with homeopathy for years.


We also used an oil based solution to soothe and keep the skin soft on a pony with sweet itch. I can't remember what it was now but the downside was when it covered the reins and you couldn't keep hold of them  :roflanim:


roddycm

  • Joined Jul 2013
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2021, 08:22:11 pm »
I have a 25-year-old mare that has had sweet itch since the age of 3. I hate to see how she really gets driven mad by the midges (despite all precautions, vets, oils, potions and various other recommendations over the years etc etc etc) I have to be careful not to let her out anywhere with "scratching posts" in summer because she will scratch herself raw in a matter of minutes. No matter how on top of things I am the midges always get to her and it's just awful.

When midge season is over and all the hair grows back she is totally fine and you would never know what an awful time she has had. Thankfully (for her at least) this summer was dry so very few midges which meant she has had a relatively easy time of it, but still not great.

My mare is homebred, I was there when she was born and we have a very close bond. I love her to bits and would not be without her. I have tried everything that I can to make her comfortable, however,  after dealing with this for 22 years I would never knowingly go out and buy a horse with this problem.  Not trying to discourage you, but just want to share my experience so you get a good idea of what it can be like.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2021, 11:24:15 pm »
Thanks so much to everyone who has shared their personal experiences with this distressing condition. 

I also asked on a local forum for personal experiences in the local area. 

Clearly it is just as prevalent in Cornwall as it is in Cumbria and Yorkshire, and whilst many people do manage to find a way to control it for their horse, it's an unpredictable disease, very unpleasant for the horse if not controlled, and I have withdrawn from the potential purchase.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Buttermilk

  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Talk to me of Sweet Itch
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2021, 02:03:08 pm »
I would have withdrawn from the purchase too.  Having had many years of dealing with sweet itch ponies, if possible never again.

One shetland pony that was treated with liquid parafin and sulphur regularly had an anaphalactic shock at the application of fly repellent.  Fortunately the vet was on the premises vaccinating another pony and able to treat immediately.  He reckoned that the pores of the skin had become softened by the liquid parafin allowing the fly repellant to go straight throuth the skin.

Another pony that had suffered from typical sweet itch for several years turned out to not be allergic to midges but to growing grass, this was only discovered after we lost three in a week to grass sickness and everything came off the grass.  She was on a stretch of track against a very midgey hedge but her itches cleared up within a week or so.

The current RDA pony with sweet itch gets a very thickened, sore belly as well as her mane and tail being rubbed off.  She is better with the really expensive boet rug but still has to be electric fenced off all fences and anything that she could rub against.  To me it is no life for an equine.

 

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