If you’re a horse owner, it’s not “if” you’ll ever have to deal with lice, it’s more like “when”. The good news is that lice are generally fairly simple to treat, and perhaps most importantly, species specific, which means you and your family can’t catch them from your horse.

There are two kinds of lice that affect horses, those that survive by eating the dander and shed skin, and those that suck blood.  Lice are most prevalent in the winter months, as they thrive in the thick winter coats. As you can imagine, Miniature Horse coats are particularly appealing.

All horses can get lice – even the best cared for horses can end up with some creepy crawly passengers, but by being observant and catching infestation early, you can keep your horse comfortable and improve their health.

The symptoms of lice are probably not unexpected – itchiness, rubbed areas on the coat, and in more serious cases, even poor doing horses, dull hair coats and anemia. Some horses are just itchy and aren’t diagnosed, but if you clip your horse in the spring and they have those little dark coloured flecks in their coat, it’s a pretty safe bet they had an unnecessarily itchy winter with their stowaways.

There are lots of very good photos of lice infestation at - guaranteed to make you itch.

There are lots of very good photos of lice infestation at – guaranteed to make you itch.

Treating with an ivermectin dewormer will combat blood sucking lice, and Dusting Powder will take care of the dander eating lice. If you have one horse showing symptoms in your herd, every horse needs to be treated or it’s likely you’ll miss a low level infestation that can then spread through the herd all over again. The good news is that a can of Dusting Powder is only about $15 and will do an awful lot of horses. Dust them all over, especially down the topline, making sure to get it through the hair and down to the skin, until you have a herd of fluffy powdered donuts. Then write down the date, as you will have to retreat in 2 weeks time to kill any lice that hatched after the first treatment.

That’s it, now you’ll have happy, comfortable, healthy coated horses!


4 thoughts on “Itchy”

  1. How do you know whether it’s lice or shedding out itchiness? My Pinto has rubbed a bare spot on his neck just under his mane – could that be (ick) lice? And there is a spot on his rump, too.
    Any test the vet can do? Or do you just assume and treat in case.
    How do you know which type they have so you know how to treat it?
    I’m having a FEC done on both my horses right now. If they need Ivermectin that would take care of the blood-suckers.

    1. You can usually see the lice if that’s what’s causing the itchiness – part their mane and you can see either the eggs stuck to the base of the hair, or the adult lice crawling around. Yick!

      It doesn’t do any harm to treat, but mine are rubbing a lot this year too, with no sign of lice – and I’ve been looking! My theory is that with the cold then warm then cold then warm weather we had most of the winter, they get hot and itchy during the warmer weather. And that makes sense with him rubbing under his mane – that would be an extra hot area with both winter fun and mane covering it.

      Usually it’s recommended to both dust and deworm with ivermectin, then you cover both types of lice.

  2. Thanks! Actually he’s rubbing on the non-mane side right near the base, But I’ll check for eggs/adults next time I”m out – haven’t noticed any but then haven’t been looking. I get crawly just thinking about this!

  3. Thank goodness for Marion and her sharp eyes! She caught the boys itchiness…and (lice) icky passengers…quickly so I could treat them

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