hives · Uncategorized

Happy Hives Season! (Not.)

I’ve written about this before, but the first summer after his Cushings diagnosis, Tristan came out all over in hives. Bad hives. Fast. It was a lot of fun! He got lots of baths, some IM shots of allergy meds, and then OTC allergy meds, and then finally prescription allergy meds.

For the two summers after that, we started him on the prescription allergy meds as soon as it started to get hot (so, late June/early July) and a fly sheet whenever he’s out. He only had very occasional small outbreaks. We never did find out what he’s allergic to. The vet felt strongly that it was topical – but it wasn’t affected at all by baths, and he could still happily and easily get hives underneath his fly sheet. Barn manager and I both feel strongly that it’s something he eats. Something blossoms at this time of summer, and my darling horse feels compelled to eat it.

2015-09-17 10.08.38.jpg

his old fly sheet – that never fit well – and has since been replaced.

The catch – of course there’s a catch – is that the allergy meds are expensive. About $1.50 a day to feed. This year, with the switch to Prascend, I am struggling a little bit to find a way to anticipate and fund the large ongoing vet bills, so I had a conversation with the barn manager. We decided to delay on starting him on the allergy meds this year until we saw that he got hives.

Well, like clockwork, last Thursday he came in with his neck and shoulders a pulpy, hive-y mess. It figures, of course, that I was just starting to feel confident enough after my surgery to ride again. Barn manager (bless her forever, I owe her booze) gave him a long cold shower and started him on the meds. The hives have not spread and are slowly, slowly easing up.


In the first few days of hives, I prefer not to ride. For me, it doesn’t matter whether they’re in the saddle area or not. I worry about speeding up the allergic reaction – getting his blood going which causes it to go faster through his system – and triggering something more severe. That first summer, I was deathly afraid they would move on quickly and cause some kind of respiratory reaction. They came on so fast – within an hour or two he was just covered. Now, I worry a little bit less about that, but I still want the drugs to have time to get into his system.

So, we’re in a bit of a waiting game, which also neatly coincides with waiting for the one-week checkup after my surgery. I’m hoping once I clear the one-week mark his hives will be almost all gone, and I’ll get back in the saddle.

Anyone else have a horse who gets summer hives? How do you treat them? Do you ride through them or give time off?

8 thoughts on “Happy Hives Season! (Not.)

    1. Yeah we’re talking about the same horse who can’t be stalled with those sawdust pellets because he eats them. “Just stop eating it!” isn’t really part of his worldview…


  1. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. Poor itchy boy! We have a racehorse that gets hives. They’re an allergic reaction to certain types of straw. A Listerine bath helps him clear up and feel less itchy, but I’m not sure it would help if it’s being caused by ingesting the allergen.


    1. Listerine, that’s really interesting! We’ve tried doing baths, and I’ve used regular shampoo and betadine/medicated shampoo with no success. Maybe I’ll try the Listerine, thanks.


  2. oh poor boy. I’ve known horses to be allergic to shavings/sawdust. If he’s ingesting it I wonder if you could see what is coming up this time of year to identify it? Not sure then what you would do……


    1. Oh boy the first horse I ever leased was allergic to EVERYTHING. He routinely rubbed out all his hair, poor boy.

      Probably someone better at botany than I could make an in depth examination and analysis of his field. I’ve thought about it. But then I came back to, what would I do with that information? I’m not going to weed his entire pasture! For now, when this starts, he goes on drugs and we shift his pasture, and that seems to clear it up within a week or so.


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