Friday 21 May 2021

Ticked Off

So a few days ago I removed the first tick off of Naia. It was right in the hollow under her jaw. I am familiar with ticks from pulling them off myself (only once, and an experience I would rather not repeat), and dogs, but this is actually the first time I have had to remove one from a horse. Ticks exist in the area but my barns have never had many around since they are surrounded by cultivated land. I know that it is important to pull them off nice and slowly to make sure you get the whole thing, and to inspect it afterwards to identify and make sure all limbs and head accounted for, but holy crap, those things give me the heebie jeebies! The whole time I am slowly handling it my brain is internally screaming "get it off, get it off, get it off!". (So don't worry, no gross photos of the actual tick, I was not holding that thing longer than I had to!)
Bump left from tick

I looked up the stats from the Alberta tick monitoring program and the chance of the tick carrying Lyme disease is very small but not non-existent. I don't think it was a black legged tick but I am not positive and I didn't have anything on me to put the tick in to send off for testing. Ever since I've been super paranoid. Every time that Naia moves a back leg slowly I worry that she is developing neurological symptoms.
Despite my paranoia she seems to be moving just fine

After finding the one tick I have been much more diligent about checking her over for any others. The experience has highlighted to me that I need to stop putting off desensitizing Naia to me handling her teats. I've worked with other mares before to make sure they were comfortable up there for me to check for ticks and remove dirt and dead skin, but it always makes me a bit anxious until I know they are comfortable with it. I've only just started pushing that boundary with Naia now. 

How about you? Do you have to deal with ticks where you live?


  1. 1) I feel like I missed some stuff and will likely revisit the archives, but — Naia is lovely!
    2) tbh I live in what often feels like the heart of tick country. I’ve also heard that it’s important to “get the whole thing off in one go, including head.” In practice? It doesn’t make a bit of a difference in terms of disease transmission and the head comes off with the scab in a couple days just twist the sucker off and you’re good to go.

    In this area Lyme is everywhere. Anaplasmosis is increasingly common. If my horse has a big reaction to a tick bite (think: big circular swelling around the bite site) then I basically start counting days to the fever (6-9). Anaplasmosis is newer as far as I can tell and is characterized by a GIANT fever and potentially some (but not necessarily all) swollen legs. Lyme is a trickier beast and can be acute or gradual. Changes in demeanor, soundness, fever etc can indicate.

  2. Naia is gorgeous!!

    We have disgusting amounts of ticks here in the Highveld. A chemical tick control program is just part of life out here, but we don't have Lyme, just piroplasmosis, and most of our horses are pretty immune to it so the mortality rate is extremely low. Still not nice to deal with! We had late rain this year that led to a tick explosion that I was unprepared for, and I had five sick horses (out of 25) in a single week. They're all fine now, but those ticks won't catch me unawares again!