Five Reasons Your Horse is Rubbing its Tail
 By Winniefield Park   •   10th Jun 2014   •   4,373 views   •   0 comments
Five Reasons Your Horse is Rubbing its TailYour horse’s mane and tail is often its crowning glory. One of the most disturbing problems that can happen to a horse’s tail is rubbing. It’s upsetting to find your horse has rubbed the top of its tail until there are bald spots, and the hair looks like an electrocuted bottle brush. Many people think that tail rubbing is just a bad habit, but it could be an indication of other problems.

Bug Bites
Tail rubbing can be caused by something as simple as blackfly or mosquito bites. The bites might not actually be on the horse’s tail, but around the tail area, or even between the horse’s legs. Unable to reach the itch any other way, the horse may try to scratch on trees, fences or any other object to relieve the discomfort. Ticks can cause a horse to rub its tail too, so look for any little lumps around your horse’s hind quarters and under its belly.

Another common reason for tail rubbing is an internal parasite called pinworms. These tiny worms come out of their warm dark home in the intestine, to lay their eggs beneath your horse’s tail. This can cause irritation and in response, your horse may rub its tail. The solution is a de-worming program that targets pinworms.

Sweet Itch
Some horses get sweet itch or summer seasonal recurrent dermatitis from gnat bites. The horse’s body overreacts to the bites and develops hot, weeping, tender areas. They may also scratch their tail, leaving it a frizzy, oozing mess. The affected areas are sometimes called hotspots because you will be able to feel the heat from the inflamed skin on your hand from a short distance away. The midges, also known as no-see-ums only come out at certain times of the year, and the same area on your horse may be affected each time. Usually, the midges bite along the horse’s top line, although some may bite the abdominal mid-line as well. Sweet itch can make a horse really miserable. You might need the help of a veterinarian to ensure the problem isn’t caused by some other allergy, and to prescribe a corticosteroid cream to reduce the irritation.

A Dirty Sheath or Udder
Sheath cleaning is not a really fun job, but if your gelding is rubbing his tail, he could be telling you he’s due. A dirty sheath can cause irritation, and your horse may try to scratch it by rubbing its haunches and scrubbing its tail into a frizz. The cleaning process is actually simple, and the supplies needed are inexpensive. Proceed with caution, however. Some geldings are quite blasé about having their sheath cleaned while some might get rather indignant. Your mare might need her udder cleaned, especially if the bugs have been bad. The combination of dirt and bug bites can make a mare feel very itchy. Use a mild soap or oil with a soft cloth to clean an udder.

Skin problems can be caused by all sorts of things from bug and pollen allergies to reactions to shampoos, grooming sprays or fly sprays. If the tail rubbing starts, along with some skin irritation right after trying a new product, you might have found the culprit. Sometimes it can take some sluething and the help of a veterinarian to find out what the problem is.

Soothing Your Horse
To keep your horse from scrubbing and scratching, try applying a soothing aloe, mild oil or zinc cream to the affected areas. Some people swear by M-T-G. Try to avoid anything with vinegar or alcohol as these can dry and irritate the skin. Don’t put a tail wrap over the area, as this may make things worse.
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