grazing horse COWGIRL magazine
A grazing horse. Photo by Ronnie Overgoor.……

Horses can suffer from allergies much like people do. There are things in their environment can that trigger a response from their immune system. These allergens can cause various symptoms to appear. Often, they leave your horse feeling uncomfortable. They may even need medication to reduce the unpleasant symptoms.

What Are Equine Allergies?

There are substances in your horse’s environment that will trigger a response from their immune system. The horse’s body produces antibodies, which causes various symptoms to appear.

What Causes Allergies?

There are tons of allergens in your horse’s environment. Some include pollen, grass, mold, wheat, barn dust, among others! Even insect bites can cause skin allergies. What affects one horse may not affect another… Some horses will also struggle more inside a stall. They may develop respiratory issues because of dust or mold.

A horse in their stall. Photo by Jamison Riley.


  • Respiratory distress
  • Nasal discharge
  • Watery eyes
  • Persistent coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives on their body
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Shift in mood, will appear uncomfortable
  • Refusal to eat

Prevention & Treatment

It can be hard to eliminate all allergens from your horse’s environment. There are, however, steps you can take to greatly reduce them. It could as simple as leaving your horse outside, rather than in a dusty stall. There are also fly products that prevent bites. Some horse owners will need to make dietary changes, if their horse is allergic to certain ingredients. It will depend on your individual horse.

While the best treatment is to remove the allergen, that’s not always possible. Your vet may recommend steroids or other drugs to control the symptoms. Unfortunately, prolonged use of them can have side effects. Some have had success by building up their horse’s tolerance to the allergen. Their vet will inject the horse with increasing concentrations of the offending allergen. A test can be used to determine what your horse is sensitive to.

It will take some observation and investigating to figure out what is bothering your horse, but with time and patience you can hopefully reduce their discomfort!