Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Horses and Mosquitoes

I see letters from people all of the time asking for help with skin problems and insects bites in their animals. You can only spray them so many times with insecticide and it is never as good as it claims. Antihistamines and steroids are not very good for them and should only be used in extreme cases. My new Friesian, Frisona, came from a dry, arid, inland area and moved here to Mojácar where even though it is desert, it is lush and green this time of year and near a dry river bed that still has pools of stagnant water. I consulted the vet and many sources and it seems you just have to let them get bitten and to get used to it. I was wondering why the mosquitoes were worse on Frisona than they were on Cariño, the other horse here. It turns out that Cariño came from a place nearby that had very similar conditions so her body is used to it and the mosquitoes, though bad, don’t seem to bite her as much. Last night I almost called the vet because I thought that Frisona was going crazy. She was very impatient, wanted to stay dangerously close to me and couldn’t even eat. She kept throwing her head and dunking it in the bath tub. Even I was being bitten very badly while I was trying to confirm the reason for her strange behaviour. This year we have been plagued with at least four types of mosquitoes, it is the worst year ever. The town halls have been notified and have said that they would spray but – thanks to modern practices and the influence of the environmentalists – only for the larvae. One of the new types of mosquito is out all day, so we don’t even get a break from them, making it almost impossible to ride because the horses are so distracted and uncomfortable. Anyone that lives in the campo, with greenery around it, is having the same problem.

After fretting all night about the problem and Googling everything I could think of, the only answers I got were to move the animal to a different area or let their body get used to it and just let them get bitten. It will be better next year they all say.

I remembered that when we were little and fell in poison oak or got the chicken pox, my mother would put us in a cool bath with bicarbonate of soda and it took away the itch and had a very soothing effect for a few hours. This morning I went to the stable to feed and see how my poor Frisona was doing, she was still going crazy but at least came in to eat. I gave her a sponge bath with cold water and a lot of baking soda and I had a very relieved and grateful horse that was able to relax enough to enjoy her breakfast. I will have to do it several times a day but at least it works. Distilled or white vinegar in water is another good remedy for itchy skin and bites.

These remedies work on all of the animals and on people too.

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