Letters: 11/05

Allergies And Spirulina
I have been meaning to write for some time to thank you for your careful, smart, clear, up-to-date magazine. As the editor of a national design magazine and avid, lifelong horsewoman, I truly admire the thought and research you put into Horse Journal.

I also wanted to share my experience with my very allergic nine-year-old Dutch Warmblood, Oberon (Obi). After five years of trying every solution and supplement, I’ve finally found a combination that keeps him comfortable — thanks in large part to you.

I bought Obi as a yearling in the Netherlands, and he started developing allergies as a three-year-old. We found him especially sensitive to culicoides and stable flies, but also to many other things.

The symptoms — intense itching and discomfort (resulting in a constantly irritated, bloody belly and a balding mane and tail, both from rubbing) — only appeared in the spring and lasted till cold weather. He seemed to suffer most in the early spring with the culicoides. I did my best to eliminate all irritants — fed only grass hay, put fans in the stalls to blow out the flies, mucked stalls and field frequently, and used a Weatherbeeta Turnout flysheet with full neck and belly-band protection.

My vet had an allergy serum formulated for him, which I’ve administered monthly under the skin for about five years and, until this year, I also used a specially fabricated homeopathic oral mix made by my alternative vet, Dr. Allen Schoen. Obi has always had ample Omega-3 and -6, both in additional ground flax and in his Platinum Plus supplement.

But the real breakthrough came this year. Thanks to your articles, I added spirulina, vitamin E and magnesium (Quiessence). Success! While he’s still a bit itchy, his belly isn’t raw and his mane and tail are intact. I’m not sure which of these new things is most responsible, but I highly recommend the combo to anyone with a horse with similar allergies.

Two other notes: The spirulina wasn’t available from your web source and in searching the internet, all spirulina was far more expensive than reported. But now Springtime (springtimeinc.com) makes spirulina “wafers” or tablets. Each is 2 grams, and they recommend one tablet for each 100 pounds body weight daily. These are much easier to measure and less messy than the powder. And I use two 1000 IU capsules of vitamin E daily from the drugstore — again, a lot neater than the oil.

Again, thank you for a terrific publication, and I??hope this will help someone else’s mega-allergic horse!

Donna Warner Coughlin

Veterinary Editor Note: We’re glad to hear you’ve got things under control. Vitamin E is deficient in a large percentage of equine diets and is a critical antioxidant. Adding it separately helps guarantee potency. And low-magnesium status influences allergic reactions in other species, including skin problems.

However, we’d bet the Spirulina is having the most effect. The Springtime spirulina wafers came on the market after our article. The dosage (20 grams for an average 1,000-lb. horse) is the one we found effective, but many horses need to be dosed twice a day.


Back To Barrel Racing
I purchased my mare for barrel racing a few years ago. It was winter, and she “passed” the vet check with flying colors.?? Well, when it started getting hot, I noticed her coughing.??She had allergies/heaves.?? I couldn’t ride her, as she would just cough like crazy when I trotted. I could hear her breathing across the field. I was devasted. I used all the money I had and my horse was worthless.??We tried everything.?? Everyone told me to sell her, but I couldn’t. She wasn’t worth anything.?? She has sat in the field for three years. Then, when I read your article on spirulina, I decided to give her one last try. It’s a miracle. She stopped coughing and is barrel racing and winning. At first she wouldn’t touch it, but I mixed in Karo syrup and corn oil and she ate it.??Now I can mix it with her feed without corn oil and she eats it.??

Donna Carlisle