Sweet Itch

Sweet Itch

in Ponies and Horses

An Introduction

This condition is very difficult to manage, coming as it does usually in the Spring and Summer, just when a pony is most in demand for riding activity. It can also cause the pony great distress and can result in some preventive measures that restrict the animal's freedom and pleasure. It is the name given to weepy skin sores with great irritation and itching (pruritus), distributed mostly along the crest of the main, on the wither area and around the rump and tail head. The pony will rub, scratch, bite and roll, in an effort to allay the itch and will inflict self trauma, not to mention potential damage to fences, gates, fixtures and fittings. It is generally accepted that the condition is the result of an allergic-type reaction (allergy) to midge bites (Culicoides sp.).

Some measure of control can be achieved using an all-over rug, to protect the pony from the midges (and from himself), by using midge deterrents and by stabling at the major midge flight times (morning and evening). There are many patent and proprietary medicines and applications which purport to help in this condition.

In natural medicine, we have been privileged to have treated a great many Sweet Itch cases, over the years. In the majority of these, symptoms and signs appear either to have been well-controlled or even abolished.

Treatment options used, often combined, have been veterinary homeopathy, herbs and natural feeding. Veterinary acupuncture may also help.

For a fuller account of this topic, see:

Sweet Itch.pdf