You walk out to the barn and the smell hits you immediately. It’s the pungent, strong odor of skunk. Based on past experience, you turn to your dog, who’s usually the guilty party. But this time Fido isn’t the victim. You follow the lingering smell to the paddock and realize it’s your horse.
You’ve heard the saying, “curiosity killed the cat”? Well this time, curiosity skunked the gelding.
This happened to one of my horses recently, and it isn’t the first time he’s had a close encounter with Pepé Le Pew.
First things first: Check your horse for any bite marks or wounds. Skunks can contract and spread rabies by biting another animal. If you suspect your horse was bitten, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What You’ll Need
The good news is you’ve probably got everything you need to help deskunk your horse in your household cleaning items. Gather the following:
- 1 quart hydrogen peroxide
- ¼ cup of baking soda
- 1-2 teaspoons of Dawn dish soap (yes, it needs to be Dawn)
- ½ gallon warm water
The amounts above are basic guidelines, and you might need more or less depending the extent of your horse’s exposure. Fortunately, Teddy’s hot spots where the odor was the worst were on his nose and lower legs.
In a bucket of water, mix the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish soap.
Using rubber gloves, apply the solution thoroughly to your horse’s coat where he was sprayed. Be careful not to get it in your horse’s eyes.
After you’ve applied the solution, rinse your horse thoroughly. Depending on the smell’s severity, you might have to repeat this process.
Wash your horse with your normal horse shampoo and rinse him thoroughly again to remove any remnants of the solution and to give your horse a fresh, clean smell.
Cleaning Halters and Boots
Teddy was wearing a nylon halter and overreach boots when he had his skunk encounter, so they were coated in the unpleasant scent, as well.
I placed both his overreach boots and halter in a bucket of the solution left over from his bath and let them soak for about 30 minutes to an hour. After rinsing them, the scent still lingered but was much more tolerable.
Keeping Skunks at Bay
There’s no singular way to keep skunks off your farm or facility, but you can take several preventive steps to make your barn and pastures less attractive to them:
- Store all your pet and livestock feed in animal- and rodent-proof containers, such as a metal trash can.
- Do not leave cat or dog food out at night.
- Secure garbage containers with proper lids.
- Check around your barn and buildings regularly for holes or areas where a skunk or other wildlife could take up residence.
Check out this article for more tips on dealing with unwanted wildlife on horse properties.
Has your horse ever been sprayed by a skunk?