Itches and Scritches

By Terry Golson

If I’m in the room with five people, and there’s one mosquito, I’ll be the one that gets bit. Some people are like that. We give off whatever it is that the biting insects use for navigation. Some horses are like that too. Tonka is one of them. He attracts ticks. He goes out in the same field as Willow. She comes in with nary a bite. He comes in with ticks attached.

Before Tonka goes out on grass, he’s sprayed with a repellent. It’s effective, but that one little bit that I miss is where the ticks go. They’ve found his tail. Under all of that lovely skunk-colored hair is a tail bone, and muscle and skin. Tonka can’t reach it.


I can.

When horses enjoy grooming, they’ll do this adorable stretch-out-the-neck and wiggle the lip thing. Tonka rarely does that. When I groom him he stands quietly, and if he’s especially happy, he blinks his eyes sleepily. But when I found a tick on his tail, and he realized that I was getting it off for him, he was delighted.

Sometimes there’s no tick, just a yucky oozy lump. That needs scratching and scritching.




Yesterday I had a long day doing non-horsey things. At the end of it I needed barn time. I didn’t ride and I didn’t groom, but I did run my hands all over Tonka to check for bug bites and lumps and anything else worrisome. Tonka was fine. Even his tail. But now Tonka has decided that he likes those tail scratches, so I obliged. Afterwards, I sat companionably with him in his stall. We were both smiling.

4 thoughts on “Itches and Scritches

  • Nikki

    I feed April fresh garlic (you can buy big jars at the supermarket) with every meal. It greatly reduces the ticks. Costs very little and she loves the taste. When I run out, if she goes a week with no garlic then the ticks are back.
    April also loooves her grooming. She will adjust her position in the cross ties to let me know where to brush. Her neck is a favorite spot. She’s often right behind the saddle, just like Tonka, so I often brush and curry this section to work on her back before or after schooling.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      The odor of garlic wafting off of the skin is supposed to confuse the biting insects. Interesting that you’ve had such success with it. Also interesting that she likes it raw. My chickens won’t touch raw garlic 🙂
      I hope you have a super eventing season!

    • Terry Golson Post author

      I love a good dressage moment in the ring, but that wouldn’t keep my interest if I didn’t also have these sweet moments in the stall 🙂

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