On Tuesday when I went over to check the horses at the pasture I saw that Joy, my 24-year-old National Show Horse, had a couple of spots on her head that were open and oozing, with a couple of other spots that looked a little scabby. I figured she had gotten some ticks on her and had rubbed her head on a tree because they were itchy, making it worse. So I went back home and got paper towels and ointment, cleaned her up and put Fura-Zone on the sores.
But yesterday when I really looked at my Arabian gelding, Will, I noticed that he had a spot on his chest, about the size of a quarter, without any hair. It wasn't sore-looking, or red, but it looked almost like he had dandruff around it and when I checked him over I found a couple more, smaller, spots that were the same.
I immediately thought of ringworm on both horses. So first I looked it up online and I couldn't find any sites with pictures which looked like what my horses have so I called my veterinarian, Greg Harms. He had me take pictures and e-mail them to him so he could take a look. He said he highly doubted it was ringworm as our horses are healthy and it would have to have come from something else - it isn't just "in the air."
The consensus is that Joy has a fungal infection - much like rain rot - most likely caused by the fact she's continually on pasture grass which is long, and in the mornings the dew on the grass causes her face to remain damp. Also, since she's now 'retired,' she doesn't receive regular brushing anymore. That will change, as I must monitor her sores and continue treating them. Plus, having a well-groomed horse will help to release any dirt or moisture caught underneath the hair.
Hair Follicle Infection
Will's affliction looks like an infection in the hair follicles, akin to girth itch because it likely started after he continually rubbed up against his hay bag in the trailer not too long ago. Once hairless skin is exposed to the environment, it's much more susceptible to infection, especially with a rubbing situation, since even the tiniest of abrasions will let in bacteria, fungus, etc.
For this morning, treatment consisted of giving both of them a bath with an anti-fungal, anti-bacterial shampoo - Hexadene shampoo - and putting them back in the pasture. Every day, I'll have to keep monitoring them and treating the spots to ensure they don't get worse.