Miniature Horses and Tunis Sheep

Skin Problems in Miniature Horses


Q. Source? I know that our chickens have lice.  Could they spread it to the horses? Kay

A. From my understanding, lice is "Species Specific." Meaning people lice are only on people, chicken lice are just on chickens, horse lice are just on horses. Chicken lice may hop on you but will not stay as you are not the right host. So, no, a horse would not get lice from the chickens. Dena

A. I believe Dena is right about the lice; however it did spread to my other minis. Do any of your other minis have it? I didn't even notice the other ones had it until I realized that my one mare had it and then when I started looking in all of their manes and tails, sure enough. Coming from Nevada to Montana, I didn't even know horses could get lice. When I started noticing her having bumps and then hair loss and scabies, she was even losing weight, I went right to my mini horse books to figure it out and the description seemed like rain rot. I'm not exactly sure how I realized it was lice but I happen to be working for an equine vet at the time and asked him about it. He told me to get Permectrin II and dilute it and wash them down with it. It worked great, they were dead instantly and I did it again two weeks later as a precaution, haven't had a problem since. Of course I also wormed everyone too. I still have no idea how they got lice though. Not sure if this will help you, but I thought I would share. Karri

A. Since you mentioned using Permectrin for lice, I thought I'd tell you my experience. My minis also had lice this summer and I used the Permectrin with great success except for one mare. She just kept itching and scratching even though I couldn't see any lice anymore. I soaked her down again after a few weeks, but still she was just miserable almost rubbing off the top of her tail and actually rubbing her face raw. Finally I took her to the vet and he said it looked liked she had an allergic reaction to something and the Permectrin is the only thing I can think of. She is looking better, but does anyone have any suggestions on what I can use on the sore spots and scabs she still has. Do you think the Listerine and mineral oil mix would work? The vet said to put on Corona ointment, but it seems to me she still itches. I don't know how she would react to a medicated shampoo and bath because she is a little skittish. She hates spray bottles so I don't think she'd like being sprayed with water. Phyllis

A. I have been told that if you have a horse that lays down a lot, they can get it that way, some way pick them up from the ground?  Didn't make sense to me, but I've never had problems with lice until this summer.  My mini was sent to training and was pastured with another mini; turns out that other guy was looking for a home, so I brought them both home at the end of training.  I found nits on the new guy, but not any lice.  My vet and I deduced that because my fly spray had "lice" listed as one of the bugs it treated, that is why my mini didn't get them from the new one, and why I couldn't find live lice, only the nits, on my new mini!  The vets recommended continuing with the fly spray and give the new guy a bath, scrubbing the lice area well, and then repeat in 2 weeks.  So, check your fly sprays, and if it treats for lice, do not do the powder also. Rhonda/MN

A. Depends on the fly spray. LD44Z will kill lice.  Living in MN where you can't safely bathe in the
winter I've used it to treat lice several times very successfully. I have one mare who gets crusty bumps like you described in the spring when the deer flies first start biting and another that reacts to spider bites
in a similar way. Lewella


A. Sevin powder takes care of that problem

A. Another formula for lice, and its cheap is put 1/2 cup of pine sol in a bucket of water with regular horse shampoo, wash the horse all over and let sit for about 5 mintues. Then rinse. This kills them instantly and makes them smell good too! Won't hurt them, I've used it for years. Country Star Farm

A. I wouldn't put the 50/50 listerine/baby oil on the scabs, but I might consider baby oil, or any other ointment. Rhonda/mn


Rain Rot

The culture done on my mare came back + for Dermatophilus (rain rot). My vet says that this is a gram + bacteria. She is coming out today and we are going to sedate my mini so that I can clip her legs and she is going to give her a shot of penicillin. I have read about rain rot on the Internet and most sites say that it is a fungus. I have been treating her with M-T-G. When I washed her legs today it looks like the scabs are starting to loosen. Am I making too big a deal out of this? I'm a little confused that so many sites list it as a fungus. One site described it as a fungus but also suggested a shot of penicillin is the best cure. Mostly I want to treat this before she gets a heavy winter coat. I don't want to clip her in the spring to find her covered in bumps. This horse is kept dry so I'm really not sure how she contracted it. She had a few bumps on her chest when I got her. My other mare kicked her and left a scratch which my have allowed entrance of the organism that causes rain rot. I think with the vets help this time I'll be able to handle future outbreaks on my own.


Coming from what seems the rainiest place in the world besides the rain forest...lol  (Seattle area) we tend to fight the moist eczema/rain rot during the rainy season which is 3/4 of the year.  I've personally never seen rain rot on anywhere but on the back side of the horse.  When their thicker winter coat becomes wet, it lies down (mats), kind of packs and smothers the skin so that it cannot breath.  My understanding is that bacteria may then develop from the moistness and lack of air circulation to the skin. which then causes the scabs and hair loss.  This situation has also known to be a good breeding environment for lice.

Keeping the hair from becoming bedded down, yep, good 'ole brushing, may even help prevent rain rot.  The horses coat acts as an insulator against the elements and forms a dander on the skin.  The dander, I've read, is a vital element for protection against the colder months but also is a contributor to the bacteria problem of rain rot if air flow is prevented.  The longer and thicker the horse's coat grows, the more prone to rain rot they may be.

The type of bumps described earlier, I've experienced on horses that had allergic reactions (hives).  One horse was allergic to Sweet PDZ, a non toxic powder product made for putting in horse stalls that eliminates odors.   He broke out on his stomach and legs on the side he typically lays on.  He received (was summer time) a medicated bath and additional application of betadine solution for several days, plus of course additional bedding added to the stall to fully cover any remaining PDZ.  No other horses had this reaction.

I've also seen horses' skin get embedded with tiny slivers of sawdust that formed into infected bumps similar to hives (mainly on the side they lie down on).  Another had a series of bumps that what we guessed were from spider or insect bites.  

We also routinely, even though the only lice we have had were on horses we purchased from other farms, dust our horses with lice powder/Sevin dust.  Mainly along the mane, backline and root of the tail.  This also seems to get rid of the itchys from no-see'ums and other tiny biting bugs as it also acts as a repellent to other insects.

Another product we use routinely is apple cider vinegar.  I know, some people say it doesn't work, but you can ask anyone who visits our farm or sees our horses at a show, they do not get flies landing on them.  If they do, they don't stay long and you don't see them on their faces or even hanging around their horsey piles in the paddocks.  It took about 2-3 months originally to see the protection start to work and we never let up.  They get it all year round.  One squirt from a squirt bottle - (more may be necessary in really high fly traffic areas-hotter climates) which is approx. a tablespoon, per day in their ration.   You can't convince me otherwise.  If you bathe the horse however (which the washing of the skin must eliminate the effect) the flies will be more evident for 1 to 2 days until the smell on the skin builds back up. I use regular fly spray during that time if needed. Hope this adds more information. Joanne Anderson


Fly control

Q. Since we're on the fly control subject, can I ask what fly spray you all recommend? I have been using manna-pro and the equi-spot in combination. But, I'm still having to apply the fly spray every other
day. Is that normal? The spray says it should work for 4 weeks. Thanks, Traci

A. Just my own personal experience and maybe someone has found one that does but, I have yet to find a fly spray that works longer than a day or 2, no matter what the label says. I use fly strips in the barn and spray each evening when I feed with Repel-X.  I also use "Natural" apple cider vinegar, the one that is cloudy and has sediment at the bottom of the bottle, in a spray bottle and put about 3-4 squirts on their hay pile when I feed.  I do not have a terrible fly problem here.  I also have my manure pile quite far away from the barn. Annette

A. We have a lot of animals in a fairly concentrated area.  Our muscovy ducks take care of a lot of the flies and fly strips take care of a lot more with no poisons.

The chickens keep the manure in the lots picked through and we normally don't have much of a fly problem even though we have the chickens, ducks, 9 horses and 40+ dairy goats.  But you have to keep things dry!  We've found that if water tubs run over or you have a strange goat that likes to upset them when they get low, then you have flies.

I've never found anything that will keep mosquitoes or deer flys away for long no matter what the manufacturer says.  One year we tried a whole bunch of things for flies for a 4-H project for one of my daughters.  We found that a herbal mix that we made ourselves worked as well as anything else we tried for the animals and that the fly strips, there are some wonderful huge ones avalible, worked better than any other trap or spray. Bev - Dunlooken Farm

A. We decided to try fly predators this year, ours are from Arbico Organic in Arizona. We get an order
automatically every three weeks, 150,000 parasites (I think this equals about 15,000 predators) and have
between about 35 head, about half horses.
They have been really helpful, had almost no flies at all until after July 1st, and now they are at least
75% better than before. Haven't had to use any fly masks or spray. I do hang a couple of the plastic,
fill with water fly traps in the barn and that seems to keep up with the ones the do show up.
We really didn't have flies at all until one of the predator shipments arrived while we were away for the
week (little guys only seem to live so long at the post office...), that combined with a few thunderstorms has given the flies a bit of a chance.

The cost (about $200 for the April - Oct season) seemed pricey at the time, but sprinkling them once
every three weeks compared with trying to get fly-wipe on daily sure is easier, and I think that the cost of
the fly wipe, masks, sticky strips, extra traps and labor to clean the outside big pens more often probably added up to more.  I had tried just a shipment or two a few years ago with little benefit, but the auto-delivery seems to be the secret.  Nancy Sachs www.summertimefarm.com

A: We agree with Nancy, we use Spalding Fly Predators at Unicorner Farm and yes, they do work! 


Q. Has anyone out there had to deal with warts on their horses noses/lips? I have a yearling stud cold that has 25+ warts on his nose and lower lip. Most are small, but he does have a couple that are fairly large. It does not bother him at all, but they bother me.::grins::  Does any of the over-the-counter wart medicine work? I heard someone say that you just have to let it runs it course (warts are caused by a virus) and they will fall off in due time. He is such a cutie (a bay medicine hat overo) and the warts make him look like an old hag. LOL Leesa

A. I would try to pick one or two of them off, they are caused by a virus. I have done this with quarter horse foals/yearlings and that usually works. Good luck.Mary Lackey Sundance Oaks Miniature Horse Farm

A. We used to rub olive oil on them to help them go away.  Old farm remedy. Vets usually just say to leave them alone.  The baby warts anyway. L.Day

A. There is a product you can get at a health food store called Grapefruit Seed Extract or GSE.  Put enough of that on the warts to cover it entirely, including the base of the wart.  It usually works almost overnight for any I have had on my horses.  It kind of burns them off.  Then there is just a little dried skin and you brush that off and they don’t tend to come back after either.  Good stuff! Stacy Oliver

A. Back when I use to work with thoroughbred yearlings getting them ready for the track we use to put I think it was mineral oil on them a few times a day and they would fall off on their own pretty quick. Heather Walton

A. Use Cod Liver Oil Lisa Davis

A. Take a pair of pliers and mash or twist a couple of small warts off.  That will kick in the antibodies to get rid of the virus. Mona Bateman

A. Okay, now I know why my vet pinched one off of a yearling a couple of months ago. the vet was doing his teeth say the wart, pinched it off and continued on with the floating. He never did get any more warts. I am a nurse, but will see if I can do it. LOL Leesa


Veterinary Corner 10/01: Warts & Aural Plaques

by Frosty Franklin, DVM
Edgecliff Equine Hospital
S. 1322 Park Road, Spokane, WA 99212 * 509/924-6069

Equine papillomavirus is the virus that causes the development of benign, proliferative skin tumors in horses. Microscopic evidence indicates that two different clinical presentations occur in the equine from the papillomavirus: (1) warts, and (2) aural plaques.

Equine warts are small, gray to pink cauliflower-like growths that are usually found of the muzzle, around the lips, nostrils, and eyes and occasionally on the lower legs. Warts can also involve the penis and vulva. Lesions commonly develop on young horses, 6 months to 3 years of age. The lesions range in size from 5mm to 20mm and are generally multiple in numbers. Ten to more than 100 warts are common. The incubation period is about 60 days. The warts reach maturity in 4 to 8 weeks. Then usually spontaneously regress within 4 months. Some cases may last more than a year. Cases that last more than 2 years may suggest an immune response deficit.

Warts are contagious. Transmission occurs by direct contact (nose to nose) and indirectly via fomites like fence posts and feed buckets. The virus remains vial in the environment for up to 3 weeks at room temperature. Yearly infection of young stock on large breeding farms has been reported. Lesions on the penis and vulva can result in transmission of the virus by breeding. Affected individuals should be kept away from the breeding herd. Disinfection of the premises and equipment with lye, formaldehyde, iodine, and chlorhexidine helps decrease spread of the virus.

Diagnosis is usually based on the clinical signs, history, and appearance. A large wart on the lower leg might be confused with a sarcoid. If the diagnosis is in question, a biopsy specimen may be collected and submitted for histologic diagnosis.

Usually treatment is unnecessary. The warts are harmless and almost always regress spontaneously. Management practices to limit the spread of the virus include insecticides, isolation of infected individuals, and disinfection of feed troughs, water buckets, and stalls.

Under certain conditions treatment is desirable. For instance, when a large mass of warts are interfering with biting or other tack causing a delay in training. Surgical excision and freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryosurgery) are often recommended. Various topical ointments have shown some success, however, compounds need to be very carefully applied and the horse prevented from licking and chewing the treated area. EqStim (immunostimulant) given intravenously has had reported success in both prevention and treatment of equine warts. Any treatment of warts that creates an inflammatory response may increase the risk of white hair and skin depigmentation.

Aural plaques are clinically recognized as different from warts. They are benign, raised, white to pink lesions that occur bilaterally on the inner surface of the ear. They respond poorly to treatment and do not spontaneously regress. They were thought to be caused by biting flies and are sometimes incorrectly described as "ear fungus". Infrequently, these plaques appear on the anus, penis and vulva. Aural plaques can be found on any horse older than one year of age. These plaques can become severely irritated by biting flies and horses become very defensive about having their ears touched.

Treatment with a soothing ointment, like Mentholatum, to the inner surface of the ear can be helpful. I have also tried the various corticosteroid/antibiotic ointments like Panalog or Otomax with a success. These ointments will relieve the inflammation but the plaques remain. I am not aware of a consistent treatment reported for aural plaques.



This information has been collected from the internet, mostly from Mini-Corner, our miniature horse list on Yahoo Groups.


Back to Miniature Horse Info Page