Saturday, 1 September 2012

what does lice on a horse look like?

general bad condition
We have just been through the unpleasant experience of buying a horse with lice.  As a new horsey person I didn't even know horses could get lice so certainly wasn't looking for that when inspecting poor old Mr. Ned pre-purchase.  The most obvious visual clue is the bald patches.  Lice make the hair on the horse fall out and the skin gets all scaly and flaky like really bad dandruff only brown in colour.  You can scratch it off with your fingernail.  The bare patches can be anywhere and the easiest place to find the brown flaky skin is under the mane on the neck.

bald patches in coat
When we first met Mr. Ned I remember asking about the bare patches and was told the other horse in the yard, a dominant mare, bit him.  The other problem is that Mr. Ned obviously wasn't in good condition and I knew he hadn't been wormed.  A horse looks very dull and the hair looks pretty feral if they are wormy anyway.  As a newby I didn't have any information or knowledge to question this further so left it.    The previous owners even made a big deal about how Mr. Ned loved to be scratched!  Funny about that, anyway …

this spot was always wet 'cause he kept scratching it with his teeth
So, if you are new to horses beware of this problem when you are looking at a new horse, especially one that is in poor condition.  Apparently horses can get lice from cattle so if the horse is in close proximity to cattle this would be something to check for.  Although most cattle owners are dealing with this as a normal part of cattle management.

more bald patches and a bit skinny
In case you're wondering why we bought this horse when he didn't look too good, he has the most awesome temperament.  He hasn't been looked after as he should have been but I managed to contact a previous owner who sang his praises.  With all these problems he has 'never put a foot wrong' as they say and been a willing and safe partner for The Generous Performer when riding.  I can't imagine how annoying it must have been to have a saddle on with lice.  He is an awesome generous horse.

If you end up with a lice problem there is plenty of info on the internet about treating it and there are lots of options.  Here's how I dealt with it :)





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