Equine Allergies and a visit from the Emergency Vet

It’s a call that every horse owner dreads. 7:30 on a Saturday morning and the yard owner is on the phone, “Don’t panic, but [horse’s name] has come in from the field this morning and he’s not right. You may want to call the vet…”.

Within minutes, photos of poor Ginge’s giant swollen head and hive covered body have been sent by the yard owner and forwarded to the vet, while I’m on the phone to the receptionist trying to pretend I’m not freaking out. Despite his giant head, Ginge had successfully eaten breakfast and wasn’t having breathing issues, so in theory I wasn’t freaking out. On the inside, I was definitely freaking out. He is my baby after all.

Luckily, Greg the vet, has had many years experience with hysterical horse women and passed on this message via the receptionist: “Don’t panic, it’s not as bad as it looks, I’m on my way.” Despite the fact he was still eating, Ginge was definitely feeling a bit sorry for himself. We had half an hour of cuddles while waiting (what felt like an entire day) for the vet. Ginge is not normally a cuddle fan! ¬†Our vet visit was only a flying one, he was right about there being no huge need for panic of course. A steroid injection for Ginge, strict instructions for me to go home for at least three hours while the steroids worked their magic and a diagnosis of “contact dermatitis” caused by an allergic reaction to pollen spores he would have rolled in on wet grass after a rain shower. The vet was soon on his way again. Three hours later, the hives had gone and his head was decidedly less fat. The next morning, only my bank account showed any sign of the incident.

The trouble with allergies, is that when they strike the effect is dramatic, sudden and pretty horrifying. The positives are: an attack is easily and quickly resolved and once you are aware of the problem it can hopefully be managed fairly effectively in future. I’ve had to revise my policy on allowing Starky to be turned out naked in the height of summer, especially when rain is forecast, and it seems to be doing the trick so far. A month has passed (and several fly rugs have come and gone) and we haven’t had another attack so far. Pollen and fly season are nearly over for another year, so hopefully he can have a bit of rug free time before clipping and winter rugs are upon us! Now someone just needs to explain to my horse why rugs are for his own good and stop him from shredding them. User testing says Shires rugs are getting our thumbs up this summer. Rug one was a “bargain” zebra rug that lasted a day. Our Shires zebra rug has undergone some customisation thanks to Ginge and his field mates, but remains mostly rug shaped and functional despite their best efforts (and what more can you ask for).