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First Posted: Sept 2006
Oct 13, 2012

Stinging Nettles

by Debora Johnson

Have you ever returned from a trail ride or gotten your horse out of the pasture and found an oozing or crusty, itchy sore on his pastern or lower leg area? Your horse has probably had an unpleasant encounter with a stinging nettle. There are several types of stinging nettle; however, urtica dioica is the primary one in our trailing areas. They are quite distinctive herbaceous plants and are covered with nearly invisible stinging hairs that cause intense itching, a rash, and burning pain. On the equine an oozing sore appears where contact occurs-usually on the pastern area. A crusty scab will appear at the site. The horse will try to quell the itch by rubbing with his head or mouth. The stinging hairs can get in the eyes and mouth. That can become a monumental problem. The use of protective leg coverings are a great help.

Nettles usually appear year after year in the same areas. They like rich soil, moist woodlands, thickets, river banks, and partly shaded trails. They appear in the late spring and continue until the fall. Follow this link on stinging nettles. It will provide you more information and pictures of the different nettles-male and female. When you visit this site you will say-"Oh yes, I've seen those." Watch out! Jewelweed helps if you or your horse gets stung. Some say that mint also helps. Your vet may be able to suggest a remedy as well.

On the positive side they are used for medicinal purposes. They are also quite nutritious when prepared properly.

I would rather say happy riding and leave happy eating and happy doctoring to someone else!


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