A student’s horses were recently treated by a vet for pinworm infestation by treating them for 5 days in a row of an Ivermectin based chemical wormer.
I’m anti toxic chemicals, but even so, I was shocked at that kind of toxic overload for worms that are not harmful to the horse’s health (they don’t migrate through organs or body tissue for their life cycle). They are unpleasant little critturs though, who can cause the horse to itch like crazy, so I decided to post this simple remedy for pin worms.
Although they don’t cause any internal damage to the horse, the rubbing of their itchy tail is unsightly and of course the horse can be extremely uncomfortable. The horses that I wrote about above, were stamping and kicking their feet quite dangerously in frustration and temper at the itch.
Simply putting garlic in the horses feed has a positive effect on interrupting the life cycle of a pinworm. I prefer to use either fresh garlic or the unsugared garlic in a jar, because dried garlic has been identified by Kentucky Equine Research Centre as depleting calcium from the horse’s body.
The amount of garlic a horse will eat will vary from horse to horse. Just as an idea, I use a 200 gm jar of garlic to do one day’s worming on my herd of 8 big horses. For example, you could start with 1/8 of a 200gm jar in a small amount of feed (I use pure oats to tempt them when I use garlic) and add more feed until it’s diluted enough for them to eat it.
DO NOT USE CONSTANT GARLIC IN A HORSES FEED THOUGH.
Because I worm my horses without chemicals, I need to stay on top of worms more than the average horse owner. I rotate methods and worm every month on or around the full moon, when any worms are generally detached and migrating around the body. It is important not to feed garlic all the time – it’s high in Vitamin C and horses produce their own Vitamin C so I don’t want to shut their production down by using garlic all the time, plus the worms seem to get used to it and then it’s not effective. I usually give my horses garlic for 3 to five days around the full moon as a rotation with other worming methods and occasionally around the new moon as well. (See the article that I have already written about that, it will be under the Horse Health category.)
With pinworms, the female worm crawls out of the anus of the horse and lays eggs on the skin outside, along with a sticky substance. It is here that the eggs are most vulnerable to our intervention.
Simply washing the eggs off with a spray of Neem oil diluted in water is one way of dealing with the eggs – about 2 mls of Neem oil per 500ml spray bottle of water. Don’t bother making it stronger than that – it is completely unnecessary and the horses will hate the smell. If you don’t like the smell either, you can add a bit of citronella or pennyroyal oil to disguise it.
Spray your brushes and your rugs and whatever they have been rubbing on with the Neem oil spray as well, to get a good interruption of that pinworm life cycle.
Neem oil effects the hormones and interrupts the breeding cycle of insects like fleas, lice and worms and in the case of pinworms, makes the eggs unable to hatch. (I spray any bot eggs while I am there too.) So if I have done a good spray job, it won’t matter so much if I miss any eggs, they won’t be able to hatch anyway.
PREGNANCY WARNING ABOUT NEEM OIL
That hormone effect on the insects makes me nervous about using it on any animal or human that was pregnant or wanted to be. There were no official instructions about it, but I would use some other product if I was pregnant or wanted to be.
I have had great success with pinworms by just spraying the horses’ rear ends with the diluted Neem oil. I sprayed and wiped the rump for quite a large area around the tail (everywhere where they were itching, I was spraying) and sprayed thoroughly in around the anus and everywhere else under the tail including a good wetting of the top of the tail all around.
Evidence for me that what I did worked, was that the one horse who would not allow me to spray her rear end thoroughly, was the only horse in a herd of ten to continue scrubbing her tail out.
I spent a bit of time with later to get her to accept the feel and sound of the spray bottle and now she is not scrubbing her tail out either.
Because the life cycle of the worm is five months long from egg to sexual maturity, I will continue to treat the horses with the diluted Neem oil regularly, at least once a month and more often if I see signs of a horse rubbing it’s rear end. It’s hard not to get paranoid about these things, isn’t it?
You can buy Neem oil products from your local health products shop, but it’s already diluted and quite expensive. The cheapest source that I found was organic Neem oil that I bought from e-bay. I’ve had a one litre bottle for several years now and it’s still not finished and I use it for clients’ horses as well as my own.
P.S. The toxic chemical overload given to my student’s horses didn’t work in the long term anyway. They all had pinworms back quite shortly afterwards … Hmmm… Neem oil….
PPS… One reason that I write these horse health articles is because I like to share knowledge about how to do things with our horses naturally and without toxic chemicals. (See more about me and my qualifications as an alternative therapist, on the website button at the top of the page “About Us”)
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