It's no secret that ticks are some sneaky creatures. But, as animal lovers, ticks become much more of a concern for ourselves and our animals' health since we are at a higher risk of exposure. Between spending time in the paddocks and out on the trails, if you work with horses, it’s probably in your best interest to learn more about these pesky pests.
Keep reading to find out how to identify ticks, where to find ticks, and how to protect your horse and yourself from them. In addition, we put together a list of tips and tricks for surviving tick season so that you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying what you love most- your horse.
Along with scorpions, spiders, and mites, ticks are not insects but rather a part of the arachnids family. Therefore, just like other fellow arachnids, it’s crucial to know what a tick looks like so that you can be aware and prepared in a worst-case scenario.
Some common types of ticks that you may have heard of include the Ixodes scapularis (deer tick or black-legged tick), Dermacentor variabilis (dog tick), and Amblyopia americanum (lone star tick). All of these species of ticks can affect horses, so it’s essential to become familiar with their differences.
The harsh reality is that your horse will always be at risk of encountering ticks. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways you can reduce this chance. Since ticks love to reside in lush environments, they are also attracted to any form of activity, including the movement of air, sweat, and carbon dioxide released by living animals.
To minimize exposure to your horse, start by ensuring your pastures, trails, and overall environments are trimmed and managed frequently. This will give ticks less room to hide and expose them to sunlight, which may alter their activity.
Adding tick predators throughout your farm, protecting against wildlife entering your property, and spraying your land for ticks have also all been proven to minimize the number of ticks.
Knowing where to check your horse for ticks is vital, especially in preventing health issues that can progress quickly and fast if not treated promptly. Get into the habit of checking your horse at least once a day for ticks. You can add this into your grooming routine or simply check them during feeding times.
Start by examining around your horse’s ears, on their belly, under their tail, and between their legs. Also, be sure to check your horse's face, throat latch, mane, and tail. Taking the time to look over your horse for ticks can help prevent unwanted health issues from progressing successfully, including Lyme disease transmission.
Sometimes checking your horse is not enough. We all know just how sneaky ticks can be, and in this case, there is no such thing as taking too many precautions. Many products help prevent ticks, including topical spot treatments, fly sprays, and dewormers.
Topical spot treatments can usually repel for up to 14 days, serving as the best option if you cannot regularly check your horse for ticks. Fly sprays with tick protection is also a great option, but remember to apply as directed on the label. Finally, salves, balms, and roll-ons can be excellent products for tough to reach places, especially the inner legs or around and in the ears.
Finding a tick on your horse is not the end of the world. In this situation, it’s crucial to stay calm, have a plan and go about it safely and correctly. With that being said, it’s essential to know what to do in this situation to avoid any feelings of fear or uncertainty.
Consider contacting your equine veterinarian to ask what to do in this situation. Not only will this make you more prepared in case you find a tick, but it will give you peace of mind in knowing that you have all the right tools and knowledge to treat your horse accordingly.
There are many different ways to remove a tick from a horse, so getting advice and recommendations from an equestrian professional you trust will make the process much easier and less confusing. Not to mention, it will make you that much more of a knowledgeable and educated horse person.
Get Ready for Tick Season