Dealing with summer sores!
- Have you heard yourself say this before: “Now THAT wasn’t there yesterday!”. I say this a lot, as I’m often finding scrapes, dings, scratches, cuts, and the like on horses that I groom. Most of the time, it’s no big deal. Sometimes, it’s a huge deal if summer sores develop. Summer sores in horses can sometimes take a YEAR to heal, often sidelining your horse from activity.
**Warning – very gross photo of an open summer sore on a sheath at the bottom of this article **
Summer sores (aka Habronemiasis) happen when worms begin to live in a cut or soft tissue on your horse. Yup, worms. Here are the details if you can take it:
- There’s a species of horse stomach worm, the Habronema, that pass their larvae in your horse’s manure. Flies then eat the larvae.
- When the infected flies then land on your horse’s cut, scrape, mucous membrane, eye area, genital area, anal area, lip, etc.
- The worms then begin to cause a huge inflammatory response within your horse, resulting in a HUGE wound, often within a couple of days.
- Summer sores can occur inside the sheath, udders, under the tail, and even around the eyes. Sometimes they happen without a cut or initial incident.
This healing summer sore prevents a bit from being used. You can use a hackamore, bosal, or another bitless bridle so the wound has time to heal.
Veterinary intervention is critical.
- Summer sores often resemble other types of horse lesions, from cancers to proud flesh to fungal infections to bacterial infections.
- Your veterinarian may need to take a tissue sample for laboratory analysis, which will then determine what types of medications are necessary.
- If your horse’s lesion is a summer sore, you will also need to give deworming medications, usually in conjunction with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
- Sometimes, the deworming medications are given internally, as well as directly on a summer sore.
Work on controlling internal and external parasites.
- Regular fecal testing and deworming are critical for all horses in the area. If your horse and the other horses at the barn have fewer internal parasites, there’s a decreased chance of summer sores.
- But this is hard if you live next to other farms that may not be so current on this. You also need to attack the flies at all stages of their life cycle. Not only will everyone on the farm be happy to have fewer flies, but you will also reduce the chance of the Habronema worm infecting your horse.
Cover those scrapes and cuts so flies can’t get in!
Create a barrier between cuts and scrapes if it’s appropriate.
- Wrapping or covering wounds may be beneficial to prevent the flies from depositing the worm larvae. Consult with your veterinarian about this as soon as you find a new scrape to determine if covering it is best.
- Using leg wraps and other bandages is also a good idea.
Sox for Horses makes a spiffy sock that helps heal ALL sorts of things – and creates a barrier. No flies, no mud, all healing.
** Keep scrolling if you want to see the open sore **
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Sox for Horses – for any skin funk, fly problems, summer sore, stomping, etc.
Big box of bandaging for simple cuts and scrapes
**Yucky photo below**
This summer sore on the inside of the sheath shows how large the sores can be. This horse is now feeling much better after some great care.