Why is my horse so itchy?

If your horse is itchy, it's not only frustrating for him, but you too! Here, vet Gil Riley explains what you can do.

Q: My horse constantly itches himself all over and bucks out of frustration while out hacking. Why is he doing this and what can I do to help him? 

A: There are various reasons why a horse may itch.

First of all, lice.

Common at this time of year, these creepy crawlies are responsible for causing consistent, often aggressive, itching and biting, so make sure your horse is clipped out and you've applied a veterinary-advised lice treatment.

Another reason why he could be itching is due to a bacterial infection, which will usually cause scans and itching. 

Again, when clipped, the skin is seen to be generally scurfy with spots that are painful. 

Treated by both topical washing and antibiotics, generally it will take a fortnight's programme before the condition is fully resolved.

Finally, allergies are often associated with itching. 

Horses can develop allergies to literally almost anything in their environment - bedding and food being the most common suspects.

Your vet will be able to advise on whether an initial change of environment would be helpful.