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Rash from picking mares hooves

Hi Franklin,

I have a horse problem. Maybe you can help me with it. At the barn where I take lessons, they recently got a new lesson horse, a 6 year old mare. The other two lesson horses are geldings. The problem is, whenever I pick the mares hooves, I get a rash on my arm that stings! I do not have sensitive skin and never get rashes (other than picking out her hooves), so this is extra frustrating! I have never had a problem when picking any of the geldings hooves. I was considering possibly leasing this mare in the future, but I can't if I can't pick her hooves! I have only been riding for less than a year, and this is the only mare that I've ridden, so I don't know if I would have a problem with any other mares, or if it's just her. Help!

Thanks, Alyson

Hi Alyson,

   This is one of the more unusual questions I have received and I have never heard of someone getting a rash from picking a horse's hoof before. Here are some suggestions: if the horse has any sort of fungus or similar problem going on in the hoof (thrush, rot, scratches, greasy heel, etc.) you may be sensitive to that particular bacteria and that is what is causing the rash. You don't say if the rash is on your hand at all or only on your arm. Perhaps the barn is applying some sort of medication to the horse's hooves or legs (rubbing the horse's legs with a linament or muscle rub) and it is the medication you are sensitive to. So when you pick up a foot to clean it you come in contact with the horse's leg. I would inquire if there is some medication being applied to the horse's feet or legs. Something as simple as Absorbene on the horse's leg may cause this if you are sensitive to it.

It seems to me an obvious solution for you would be to wear protective gloves and long sleeves when handling the mare's feet and legs. I always wear gloves when working around horses. I handle leather, ropes, medications and, of course, the dirt and manure that goes with the territory of being around horses a lot. Some say they don't want to wear gloves because it lessens the sensitivity of their touch with the horse. In most cases of handling horses I find this erroneous. It is only occasionally I take my gloves off for heightened sensitivity from my hand to the horse. Most of the time, a good pair of thin leather gloves is really appropriate. I suggest you wear latex or some sort of rubber glove when handling the horse's feet and legs. They are inexpensive and come in boxes of several hundred disposible gloves. Let me know if you find out that they are applying some medication to the horse's legs or feet. I would be interested to know what you are allergic to. Thanks for your question.

Sincerely, Franklin

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