Though ticks can affect horses any time of year, March, April, May and June are the most problematic months for ticks in spring; October, November and December are the worst for tick attachment in the fall. Ticks don't care what the weather is or what time of day it is–they will attach to a horse at any time.
There are a variety of ticks that inhabit different geographic regions and climates; the best way to protect a horse is to examine him closely and feel areas of his body that are either heavily covered in hair or too dark to see well. A head-to-hoof tick assessment should go like this, keeping in mind the handler's safety:
- Examine the horse's head carefully, feeling inside the nostrils and ears. Feel under the jaw carefully, running fingers over the entire area. Run fingers through the forelock, paying careful attention to the base.
- Continue down the mane, scrubbing fingers though the base of the mane to the withers.
- Run a flat hand down the horses neck and between his front legs over his chest.
- Run hands down the horse's legs, paying careful attention to the fetlock to coronet areas, specifically if this is covered in longer hair.
- Run hands over the belly and back toward the hind legs.
- Look carefully between the hind legs, including the inner thigh.
- Examine the tail carefully, running fingers down the entire length of the tailbone, scruffing fingers around the bone to be sure no ticks are attached; lift the tail to be sure no ticks are attached to the area under the tail.
Ticks that are found should be carefully removed so the head and neck don't break off in the horse's body. Tweezers may be needed to grasp the tick near the head; pulling upward with steady pressure should remove the tick. Wipe the area with isopropyl alcohol or a betadine scrub, or simply with soap and water.
Read more at EquiMed.
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