The Science

Herdleader nutritional supplements and topical lotions support your horse’s natural immune system in response to irritants present in their environment. They contain high concentrations of the natural vitamin B3 in its Nicotinamide form, which is known to have a specific effect on the immune system within the skin. Nicotinamide has been known to reduce the production of histamine and to improve the skin barrier by increasing the amount of natural fats in the skin’s surface.

Completely safe for your horse, for you and for the environment. Always use an Oral supplement supported by a topical if needed. All our products are easy to administer and have no known side-effects when used topically or orally at the recommended dosages. They are most effective if it is started before the fly season.

Summer Skin Health in Horses

Summer can place an additional burden on our horses skin health. Factors in the environment change with increased insect activity, pollens and fungal spores. Extra support for your horses immune system from Herdleader supplements can give both you and your horse a more comfortable summer. 

What to look for

Itchy skin that your horse rubs at to relieve the unpleasant sensation. If the mane and tail are affected and itchy - then horses may rub until hairs are broken, developing the classic "rat tail”.

Different Substances Affecting Horses

Under normal living conditions horses are engulfed in dust, mould spores and other foreign substances all day long. In pastures where horses graze there are many different airborne proteins that could mean your horse needs extra support to maintain a healthy skin.  Such triggers leading to the need for support are commonly pollens (often trees), grass, foods (grains and hay) and insect bites.

Insect Bite Irritation

Typically insect bite irritation is a condition in equines caused by the bites of Culicoides midges. It may be found in any horses and ponies but  especially in the warmer regions of the world.

The irritation develops at the sites where the insects feed. Mainly these are the mane and tail and dorsal midline. Ventral midline irritation may also occur irritation around the ears and head are also common. These irritations result in itching, which results in rubbing and considerable self-trauma.

Testing for the causes of skin irritations in horses

Skin irritations are diagnosed by the owner's description of the problem, the clinical signs in the horse and tests such as skin scrapings, biopsies and cultures in order to rule out other conditions like parasites, fungus or bacteria.

If all the signs point to a reaction to a foreign substance then specific testing can be performed to identify the substance and to confirm the diagnosis and assist with support.

Practical tests that you can do for yourself

Noting anything that comes into contact with your horse's skin such as bedding, horse care products (e.g. shampoos) and tack care products (e.g. leather cleaner). Using dietary trials to determine if something your horse is eating (grass, hay, grain, treats, supplements) is causing a reaction. Moving your horse to another location to avoid adverse substances specific to the original geographic location. Don’t assume your horses allergy is insect bite irritation -pay attention to the other possible causes.

Top Tips

SI is not normally a condition that can be cured but it can be managed effectively to make your horse more comfortable. Horses vary as to how severe the condition is and the management needs to be tailored accordingly. Our top tips are

Keep your horse as healthy as possible; the general health of your horse is important. Ensure your horse’s skin is kept healthy with an oral additive such as HerdLeader SR which contains natural ingredients, including the Nicotinamide form of vitamin B3, which are known to support and maintain the skin. These ingredients are supportive for skin health when there is over production of histamines (which causes the itch). They also support healthy fat cell development in the skin layer (epidermis) which provides a better barrier.

Manage stress: like many conditions SI can be worse when your horse is under stress such as when moving home or competing. Pay particular attention to his behaviour and modify your management accordingly.

Decrease exposure: Severe cases of SI will need to be covered as much as possible using a specialist rug such as a Boett, Pagony or Snuggy. Less sensitive horses may only need a propriety fly sheet to keep the worst away. Fly management is important and repellent and fly traps may be sufficient. Extreme cases will benefit from stabling during peak fly times, ideally in a stable fitted with fly screens and a large fan which deters midges. Oils and greases also deter midges from biting but can be tricky to use on riding horses as they can transfer onto you and your tack - be particularly aware of making your reins slippery!

Manage the environment; severe SI sufferers can go to extreme lengths to relieve the itch by scratching on anything and everything they can access. You may need to use electric fencing for their own safety and to prevent damage to fences and buildings. This may leave them nowhere safe to scratch so consider a safe and specially made scratching post with a plastic bristle which prevents them from damaging themselves. Avoid fields which are close to water courses where midges will breed more readily. A windy hilltop paddock may provide some relief.

Stopping the itching: your vet may offer a steroid injection which can bring temporary relief by depressing the immune system, but these can have serious side effects such as laminitis so discuss this with your vet beforehand. Antihistamines are sadly not often effective in horses. Soothing lotions can help to relieve the itching and reduce inflammation though these won't deter further midge attacks.