Saturday, April 14, 2012

Busting Bugs

Poor Pangea. Up until this point, everything had been easy smooth sailing for her and her transition from Alberta to Texas. I mean, it REALLY is a dramatic climate change, so I guess some troubles aren't unexpected... I guess we can't have it completely easy ALL the time!

The weather has been absolutely beautiful here in north central Texas for the better part of four months, and spring has been fully in bloom since February. The grasses have grown tall and mature, and all our trails are overgrow and now brushing the horses' bellies when we ride off property. Every day has been hazy, humid, and fragrantly full of bluebonnets, all of which makes me feel very drowsy and smiley all day long.

The downside to all of these awesome things? Bugs.
Lots and lots of bugs.
(Also snakes. But not relevant at the moment, thank god.)

Poor Pangea is NOT having a good time with the bugs. Coming from Canada, all the little no-see-ums and other flying Texas nuisances that make snacks out of large four legged animals are completely different than what she is used to, and her immune system is reacting accordingly. The poor thing has had the better part of two weeks off following her chiro appointment due to an itchy funk, a bout of nasty hives, a fat fly eye, and a neverending steam of welts from bug bites:

A dose of Banamine, some Clear Eyes, and a flymask took care of the fat eye fairly immediately. As for the welts and hives and generally overreactive immune system, we tried a few things and found a combination that works. The funk is under control with some diligent medicated shampooing and daily applications of Listerine, and the hives and welts are under control with a full-cover fly sheet and a shot of Kenalog. It's not my style to just reach for a steroid first thing, but in this case we decided to temper her overreactive immune system before things got out of hand. In theory, her body will adjust and become accustomed to all the different bugs and their bites here, and will not have the same reaction in the future. (Let's hope it actually happens that way.) The Kenalog nailed the problem and all her hives and welts vanished overnight, thank god. Should this problem recur, I think I'll be looking into herbalist/acupuncturist support instead, just to see if something more holistic will do just as good of a job as a steroid. I'd rather not give steroids if I can help her a little more holistically and make her feel better that way instead. For good measure, she's still been wearing her bug sheet, which she does NOT approve of:

She and Saga can be bug sheet mates until it gets too Texas hot for clothes. Trust me, when it is 110 here NOBODY wants to be wearing clothes!

The strangest development that has happened in the past week is that she has been dappling out in a completely bizarre way... I've never seen anything quite like it. It's like she's shedding into her lighter summer coat through her dapples... very weird looking. She's very dirty and dingy in these pictures so don't judge on the filth and lack of shine, she's actually very shiny when she is clean!

Weird, no? It's very pretty but... bizarre.


Now that the hives/welts/funk/fat eye stuff is all under control, she is going back to work on Monday. Can't wait to get up there and ride again after this very loooooooong two weeks of no saddle time.... assuming we don't get more tornados tonight and tomorrow like we are supposed to!


  1. What an odd shedding pattern! Very pretty though, I agree. It will be interesting to see what she looks like in a month or so.

    Saga is all about his fly sheet, and thinks that Pangea looks pretty good in hers! He says that fly boots are what all the hot ladies are wearing this year (and the Metro geldings as well, you know) and that she should get a set.

    Yay for riding!

  2. Yes, very nice reverse dapples, Pangea!

  3. I feel her pain. When I was a kid, I reacted so badly to every bug that bit me, especially mosquitoes (and I have lots of little patches on my legs where hair doesn't grow from the scars). I mostly "grew out of it," but it seems like every bug in the back yard thinks I smell tasty. At least it's not as bad in PA as it was in TN, and especially not as bad as FL!

    And Pangea, love the shedding pattern! Giving the artist ideas! :3

  4. Could the climate change from Canada to Texas affect her coat color? I don't see any logical reason why higher temps should cause a lighter colored coat, but maybe that in combination with the usual winter shed would result in the really contrasty pattern you're seeing right now. It's really striking.

  5. Sorry for the bite reactions, though that's pretty understandable given different regions. Even horses who are used to the same bities will react stronger at the begining of the season. As do I :-/

    Love the dapples, pretty girl. Wonder if could also be related to the geographical change. Or feed, etc. She looks good though, so I'd emjoy the bling on your bay mare!

  6. What a funny, dapply, lumpy girl she is right now! I'm glad the hives settled quickly though, there's nothing so tormenting as itching when everything's already suddenly much hotter than one is used to. That's the first thing I thought of with those dapples though, the sudden climatic change as well as a change of seasons and her shed; in any case it sure is striking!

  7. Poor girl. I hope the hives do not return. I doubt this counts as holistic, but I have heard good things about MSM.

  8. Poor Pangea! Good mommy for jumping so quickly on this.

    What a love spring coat surprise - I can't wait to see how continues to shed out.

  9. Klein gets a Vetalog/Depo-Medrol/B-12 shot when her itchies start up. Maybe it's an Alberta horse thing ;) Klein came from Viking, Alberta.

    I love the shedding dapples!

  10. We have a mare at the barn that I ride at that looks like that when she is shedding out. The effect on her isn't so striking though because she is a lighter bay to begin with.

    I hope that Pangea gets adjusted quickly and that the measures you are taking keep her happier until her body gets more accustomed. It's no fun when different bugs attack full force.

  11. oh the poor girl! But it looks like she is still feeling pretty spunky! My mare has a history of habronema (parasite carried by flies); we consulted a Texas vet on the issue because it appears Texans are currently the experts on it! We keep the mare on a daily wormer and aggressively fight flies on our property.

    That dappling certainly is different- I'd attribute it to her geographical change I guess!


  12. Tell Pangea to be grateful to be in Texas... I just moved to Calgary about two months ago, and it's snowed EVERY NIGHT THIS WEEK. Literally. It's April. Where is spring?!?!

    There are certainly no bugs here though, that's true...

  13. My first horse used to get white dapples in the winter (he was a palomino)... That's so funny that Pangea is the opposite! Interesting.

    Also, my mare that I recently sold was also VERY sensitive to the bugs here in NY (we moved her from Cape Cod). We found one very good bugspray... It's called FlySect Super-7. :) Quite strong, but kept most of the bugs away for me.

  14. I was just reading a blog where a horse's ears turned orange due to a high iron content in her hay. Perhaps Pangea's ginger dapples are from something similar?

  15. I'm in Miami, Land of Bugs And Skin Funk, and the best combo for itchiness/allergies/hives is a combo of spirulina, flax, and chondrotin. Works like a charm! There's an App at my barn that used to rub his skin off every year, even on Dex, and he is totally fine now that he is on the spirulina combo.

  16. Wow beautiful dapples!!!

    That sucks about the bugs. I can sort of relate because I have really strong reactions to bug bites (any of them, mosquitoes, ticks, etc.). I'm glad she's feeling better and I hope her immune system settles down.