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June 28, 2011

Lyme disease in horses: Part 2 – Removal and Prevention

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Deer ticks often hide in shady, moist ground in leaves, but they can also climb up brush, shrubs and stone walls or fencing.  Ticks do not drop off trees onto potential hosts nor do they fly or jump.  They must come into direct contact by the human or horse brushing up against something the tick is on.  Once a tick latched on to a host, they look for a dark safe area to embed such as the nape of the neck, armpit, behind the ear or in hair.

To dramatically reduce your chances of getting Lyme disease you can follow these precautions especially when riding on the trails or working outside in a paddock or pasture:

▪    Wear closed toed shoes and light-colored clothing

▪    Scan clothes and any exposed skin frequently

▪    Stay on cleared paths and well-traveled trails if possible

▪    Avoid sitting directly on the ground, fencing or stone walls

▪    Keep long hair tied back

▪    Do a final, full-body tick-check at the end of the day on both you and your horse


To watch a video  from the American Lyme Disease Foundation Website, click HERE.

To remove a tick, follow these steps:

  1. Using a pair of pointed precision* tweezers, grasp the tick by the head or mouthparts right where they enter the skin. DO NOT grasp the tick by the body.
  2. Without jerking, pull firmly and steadily directly outward. DO NOT twist the tick out or apply petroleum jelly, a hot match, alcohol or any other irritant to the tick in an attempt to get it to back out.
  3. Place the tick in a vial or jar of alcohol to kill it or flush down the toilet.
  4. Clean the bite wound with disinfectant. 

*Keep in mind that certain types of fine-pointed tweezers, especially those that are etched, or rasped, at the tips, may not be effective in removing nymphal deer ticks. Choose unrasped fine-pointed tweezers whose tips align tightly when pressed firmly together.


There is a great iPhone application that can give you great tips on the go.   The application includes information on the abundance of infected ticks at the location of the user (within the US) as determined by GPS. If ticks are determined to be present, the user is given a list of precautions to avoid tick-bites.

Map courtesy of the American Lyme Disease Foundation

If you are a trail rider you also might want to think about a lightweight barrier suit under your riding clothes from Rhinoskins.

Read more from Thrive

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