Sunday, February 24, 2008


Although Kaswyn's hives were better on Saturday, today they are back with a purpose. They are pretty severe on his neck, and have now spread to most of his body. I gave him more dexamethasone so hopefully they will be better tomorrow. I plan on calling the vet at Ohio State who saw Kaswyn when we had him tested all those years ago so I can get some direction.

I'm hoping the problem is just that I've been lax about giving the allergy shots. It had been so long since he had an outbreak that I started giving him shots every other week instead of once a week, then once a month. I figured that he had finally reached a significant titer of antibodies in his system and that he was in the clear. Apparently I was mistaken.

I know that Kaswyn is very allergic to bug bites, and if he gets stung by something he'll react. But it's the middle of winter and I know he hasn't been pestered by flies or other biting insects. I also know that he's allergic to many weeds and some trees, and it might seem odd that he'd be having a reaction now with nothing in bloom. However, if he's eating hay now that was exposed in the summer to pollen from anything he's allergic to then he'll react to that pollen regardless of the time of year. So I'm kind of suspecting the hay.

I also know that he's allergic to mold, but I don't think that's the issue right now. If it were then I'd expect his hives to improve when he's out of the barn, which was the case at a different barn. I could clearly see the hives recede after he'd been outside for an hour or so. Susan has been getting him outside all day and it doesn't seem to have helped ease the hives at all.

I called another owner who just went through this with her horse last year, and she said that the stress of moving him plus eating the new hay might have stressed his system enough that now he's reacting to things much more than he would otherwise. She said "Think of it this way - you want your horse to be standing on the ground. Everything that stresses his system takes him up a rung on a ladder. Moving him took him up a rung, as did having different hay, and probably not getting the regular allergy shots. When he gets too high on the ladder then he's going to have a big reaction. You just have to figure out what is the best way to take him back down the ladder and get him grounded."

What I need to know is what to do now. I've been down this road before and doses of dex are not going to solve this problem. He really needs to get back on the allergy shot protocol, but I'm afraid to send his system into overdrive by giving him another shot. My options as I see them are start giving the shots again as they are and hope he pulls through (with or without dex), don't give shots but give the dex possibly in decreasing dosages so his body can catch up with the reaction, or take him off everything for three weeks so he can get re-tested.

I hope the Ohio State vet calls me back tomorrow so I can do something for my poor bumpy boy. He still doesn't seem uncomfortable or stressed, but the other owner told me that her horse began have a mast cell reaction where his body began overreacting to everything, even things that were not on his allergen list. He was in a bad way for a few days or so and things got a little dicey. She said "Don't wait and see what happens. Things can go downhill very quickly so you really don't want to mess around with this."



Anonymous said...

I know if might be a pain in the ass, but can you pick up a few bales of different hay and have Susan feed that instead of hers for a few days? If it's the hay, the hives should get better, then you'll know the culprit.

I'm thinking that moving barns isn't a major factor since he's a show horse and is pretty used to traveling around to different facilities for several days at a time.

Sounds like there was something in the field that he's allergic to that got baled in the current hay. I hope he feels better soon!!! Bummer that the Dex isn't giving him relief.

20 meter circle of life said...

Oh Wow. I dont know really anything about equine hives. There is a TB at my barn that gets them and the owner says he is allergic to dirt. Unfortuantley he has all day turn out so I dont think he can get away from the dirt. She wipes him down with Tea Tree water and this seems to help him a great deal.
Your boy has had a bit of stress lately so it could very easily be that. I really hope you get it figured out and please keep us posted

Mrs Mom said...

As a "victim" of several out of control mast cell reactions myself, I hope for your and Kaswyns sake that you can get to the bottom of this pronto!

Hoping for the best for both of you!

Beth said...

Ooh that is so scary. I hope he gets better and not worse. Good luck!!!

dressagemom said...


I had thought about getting hay from the old barn. If I have to get him re-tested and need him to be hive-free then I will certainly do that. The dex is helping but as soon as he's off of it he gets hives again.

20 meter circle,

I have heard that tea tree oil is supposed to help. I know that a mix of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% Bigeloil helps Kaswyn's hives, but unfortunately it's way too cold to be spraying him with anything.

Mrs. Mom,

Yikes, that doesn't sound good!


Thanks, I hope we can get to the bottom of this too!

Katee said...

I'm new to your site and have really enjoyed your many stories. I have been married now for 3 years and been in my horse relationship for 6 years. My husband and I are talking about having kids and your blog has really been just perfect for me--how DOES one balance kids, work, husband, and horse??

With National Championships and ribbons galore, a full time job, two beautiful children, and a husband who obviously adores you (I've checked out his blog too) you have clearly got a mixture that works.

I hope that the horse-y gods see fit to give you and Kaswyn a nice long break from sickness, soreness, and lameness.

dressagemom said...


I started to write a series on how I keep everything balanced in my life, but now I'm in the middle of a hive plague and The Arena Project. I'll publish it as soon as things get more boring around here. Which I hope is really soon.

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr