Itchy Itchy, Scratchy Scratchy…
Ha ha! Now you have the Calamine song in your head.
(Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers that from summer camp.)
Remember when I mentioned that weekend of rides during which Consolation’s behavior was quite unreasonable, ranging from balking to bucking, when she couldn’t go more than a few steps without slinging her head or changing gaits? I noted her extreme itchiness on her back under the saddle area.
This was more than just an “I’m shedding” itch. More even than an “I’m shedding and I’m a mare and it’s spring” itch. This was a “GET OFF ME BEFORE I GO INSANE” itch.
Yes, your majesty. Right away, your majesty.
The itchiness was only one of several issues, some of which required waiting to ride again until her new saddle arrives. (Update: I got an email from Stonewall this morning — it’s on its way! Hooray!) But a few weeks off didn’t cure the itch. I thought it did, at first, because bareback ride #1 went well…and then came bareback ride #2. It was a warmer, sweatier day, and we’d gone less than a mile before her agitation resumed. She was clearly uncomfortable, and I ended up leading her home.
Time to investigate more thoroughly. I found no sign of pain, but boy, did she ITCH! Her withers were the worst, but much of her back was likewise affected. She was mostly shed out, but I took a shedding blade to her for investigatory purposes. Sure enough, it raked up evidence of dirty, oily skin flakes. No apparent mites. No sores or scabs or bumps. No clumps of lost hair. Just itching and oily, shedding skin.
I scoured my vet books and the web for a probably cause. Nothing matched her symptoms exactly. The closest possibilities seemed unlikely due to our dry environmental conditions or other factors. So, I decided to start with the old, cowboy remedy: Listerine. (Don’t worry, Ironman. I bought you a new bottle.)
After another, thorough brushing, I soaked the affected area with a 30:70 solution of mineral oil and generic “Listerine” (the original, amber-colored variety), gently rubbed it in, and left it on. The next afternoon was warm enough for a partial bath — thank goodness, because the mineral oil had left Consolation just as messy as you’d expect it to — and I gave her a good scrubbing with Selson Blue and one of those rubber pet-shedding mitts.
While she was wet, I noticed a smattering of bumps across her withers that I’m almost positive weren’t there before. They were much like mosquito bites — small, raised, and itchy, but not scabby or pus-filled. They didn’t compress like hives. I certainly hadn’t seen or felt them before. Were they a reaction to the Listerine? The shampoo? Hmm…
A breeze came up, so I trotted Consolation in the round corral while she dried, then re-applied the Listerine, this time in a 50:50 dilution with water, and left it on.
Come morning, the bumps were gone. The itch seemed somewhat diminished. It’s was a bit hard to tell since most horses like their withers scratched, especially this time of year, but she seemed more comfortable. The oily-flaky-skin issue seemed to have vanished.
I repeated the Listerine-and-water treatment. The bumps did not resurface. By evening, she seemed less itchy still. Today, I treated her again, and she seems back to normal.
I love it when the cowboy stuff works.