Editor’s note: We at The Horse are horse owners like you. Certain equine-care products have impacted how we manage our own animals, and we want to share our experiences with you. These select products are ones we use and love every day.

This summer I was anticipating one big event: the United States Pony Clubs Festival, an educational opportunity I’d participate in for the first time in 26 years. My off-track Thoroughbred gelding, Happy, and I would take part in four clinics with an incredible lineup of instructors. A few days before Festival I pulled Happy out of his stall, where he stays during the heat of the summer days, to find him covered in hives and super unhappy about it.

Hives

He hadn’t had hives like this for about four years. From their location, Happy seemed to be reacting to a plant in the pasture—he’d probably rolled in a patch of something the previous night. He is, after all, a sensitive-skinned chestnut and loves to roll.

Hives

I called my veterinarian, who prescribed a few days of the corticosteroid dexamethasone, a bath using a medicated shampoo, and a fly sheet—something we haven’t needed for several years. This time we’d use it as a barrier against the unknown allergen. She prescribed an antihistamine a few days later. While the hives held off briefly for Festival weekend, they returned with a vengeance the following week.

Hives
Hives

My veterinarian came out and charted a new path for us: We’d taper off the dex—using it, like any corticosteroid, compromises the immune system—and put Happy on Kinetic’s Equishield SA (Skin and Allergy), an oral supplement veterinarians formulated for allergic, itchy horses like Happy. It contains the natural anti-inflammatory MSM, the antioxidant vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid (HA), which is the key molecule involved in skin moisture. It also contains ground stabilized flaxseed and rice bran to help reduce the immune response to allergens and serve as an antioxidant/anti-inflammatory, respectively.

My veterinarian also recommended bathing with EquiShield IR Shampoo—which contains a topical anesthetic and hydrocortisone—designed to relieve itching, nourish the skin, and promote skin health. We’d stop the antihistamine after a few more days.

Here’s a picture of Happy the day we started EquiShield SA, after I gave him a bath.

Hives

Over the next few days my veterinarian and I decided to switch Happy over to Kinetic’s EquiShield CK Shampoo, which includes antibacterial and antifungal ingredients, when it became apparent that rain rot had joined our raucous skin condition party.

Hives

His body responded well to the bath; the next day his skin had no crusties and appeared calmer.

Over the following weeks his skin continued to improve in condition and appearance.

Hives
Hives

Veterinarians typically temper client expectations about time frames for seeing supplement-related results. My veterinarian says she tells her clients that appreciating an effect can take about two months when you’re using a top-dressed product, such as EquiShield SA, in a powdered form. I am relieved (and happy!) to say that nearly two months in, adding EquiShield SA to Happy’s skin care arsenal appears to have helped him cope with allergens (even without the antihistamine). He gets a scoop daily on top of his ration, along with his oral joint health supplements, and he always eats every morsel of his meals—so, no palatability issues.

Since I added EquiShield SA and the shampoos that I mentioned, we’ve only lost a handful of riding days to hives; in fact, Happy only developed hives again once, when I got a little too confident one evening and turned him out without the fly sheet. However, I got the next day’s hives under control within two days after a bath and adding the antihistamine back into the mix.

Hives

Over the past almost-two months, Happy has developed a lovely bloom to his coat. While he’s typically shiny like a copper penny during the summer, the sheen is even more obvious, and he has some nice dapples, too. I’m grateful to have found these skin care solutions during an allergen-filled—and rain-rot-punctuated—summer.

Hives
Hives
Hives