Monday, 20 July 2015


The week before Tommy came to us he had a health check.  The vet said he seemed to suffer from Hives!  I had seen the funny little scabby lumps he had on his neck and shoulders when I met him but wasn't sure what they were.  They didn't seem to bother him.

So what are Hives?

Also known as Urticaria, it is a common problem and is caused by an allergic reaction.  Hives appear to be small lumps, they are actually filled with fluid and some will push in when you apply pressure.  They are rarely itchy but can appear on specific parts of the body or all over.  

 This looks like a pretty bad case!

Tommy's lumps have little scabs and they are on his shoulders and chest mostly.  When I think about it this also sounds very like what happens to Basil if he has a fly bite - although he only gets one actually where he was bitten!

What causes it?

As with human allergies this can be caused by many different things and it is often not easy to identify the exact cause.  Horses can show this allergic reaction to:
  • something they have eaten 
  • pollen 
  • insect bites or stings 
  • shampoo, fly or grooming sprays 
  • medication or supplements 
  • pesticides 
  • mould or spores 
  • bedding 
  • extreme temperatures 
  • stress
The vet at the Blue Cross thought that it may be the sunshine causing Tommy's Hives.  Identifying the cause can then help with prevention and treatment!


Most Hives will just disappear although they can be the first of more symptoms.  If the horse is in discomfort then the vet can be called and in some circumstances will suggest corticosteroids.  These cannot be used in all circumstances though (especially if the horse or pony has a history of laminitis).  Washing the horse with a medicated shampoo may give some relief especially if it is a fly or grooming spray that they have reacted to. 

If you are able to identify the cause then removing that should resolve the problem, but as I mentioned identifying the cause is not always easy! 

How to prevent Hives

Again as I just mentioned this will rely on you identifying the cause.  If it is a spray or shampoo you can avoid that in future. It may be a case of trial and error, eliminating something to see if they disappear and come back when you reintroduce the food, bedding or spray!  So with Tommy the fact that he now comes in to the stable in the day may help his Hives and they may disappear!

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Until next time!

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