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Horse Skin Conditions: Battling Tail Rubbing

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We as horse owners go to great lengths to get our horse's tails to grow long & thick! So when our horse consistently rubs his tail into a frayed and matted mess, we have determination to get to the bottom of the problem as quickly as possible. Listed below are a few of the most common causes of tail rubbing in horses to help you pinpoint the source and find a solution:

Sweet Itch

Seasonal tail rubbing is often the result of hypersensitivity to certain insects. This type of reaction is known as "sweet itch". Sweet itch is a reaction to salivary antigens from the bites of Culicoides gnats (also called no-see-’ems). Small, itchy papules form on the skin. The horse’s mane and tail head are especially susceptible, and hair loss is often caused by rubbing the affected sites. Scabbing and ulceration can result from this self-mutilation (thehorse.com). 

Preventing Sweet Itch In Horses:

  • Culicoides tend to feed at dusk and dawn, so stable horses during this time if possible.
  • Gnats are not great fliers, placing fans in your horse's stalls will help deter them
  • Culicoides need standing water to reproduce. It is best to stall your horse away from ponds and clean all water troughs and buckets regularly
  • Use effective horse fly sprays on a regular basis.
  • Use fly sheets and fly masks on your horse to create a physical barrier between your horse & the pesky insects
  • Keep a topical treatment on hand that is formulated to treat and soothe sweet itch in horses. We recommend Corona Fung-A-Way! 


Another culprit of tail rubbing are internal parasites. The most well-known culprit are pinworms, a common intestinal parasite that can cause irritation around the anus. A horse with pinworms will often rub their rear end in every imaginable way, making the dock of the tail raw.

The best way to tell if your horse has pinworms is to have your horse examined by your veterinarian. The most effective treatment is implementing a de-worming program with the help of your vet.

Did you know? Infected equines can deposit the eggs into the environment such as fence posts, feed or water troughs when he is rubbing his tail. Other horses can be infected by accidentally ingesting the larvae. Pinworm eggs can develop within three days and persist for around one month in the environment!

Dry Itchy Skin

Is your horse's skin a bit dry and scaly? Wash your horse thoroughly with a hydrating shampoo such as Corona Conentrated Shampoo. It is also wise to apply soothing topicals to especially dry areas such as Corona Fung-A-Way.

Helpful Tip: When you wash your horse with a shampoo, make sure you rinse well! Shampoo residues can remain on the skin and can cause more tail itching.

It is also a good idea to supplement him a product formulated to promote healthy skin & hair growth. Manna Pro recommends supplementing your horse with Simply Flax, a product infused with Omega-3 fatty acids which not only support healthy skin and hair growth but support a healthy immune system as well! 


It is also possible that your horse's tail rubbing is due to an allergy to an ingredient in his diet. Each horse is an individual, and must be evaluated as such. Examples of food ingredients that have been reported to cause allergies include alfalfa, wheat, oats, concentrates, brans and tonics (thehorse.com).


Behavior problems often appear when the horse becomes bored from excessive stall confinement. Some have been noted to develop a habit of rubbing their tail. Try to ensure your horse receives adequate daily turn out if weather or his physical condition allows.

Dirty Sheath

If enough debris accumulates in a gelding's or stallion's sheath (although less common in stallions due to breeding), he may demonstrate discomfort by rubbing his tail. The solution is simple! Have your veterinarian sedate your horse and do a thorough sheath cleaning with attention to every nook and cranny.

As we can see, a variety of problems can cause itching & trail rubbing. After determining the cause of tail rubbing with your veterinarian, you should be able to rapidly resolve the issue and his tail can return to its full and glorious self! 

Is your horse feeling the itch?

Corona® Fung-A-Way is a topical fungicide for ringworm in horses and other fungal infections.

Corona Fung-A-Way 16 oz.jpg

  • Helps control ringworm in horses, summer itch, girth itch, and other horse skin conditions
  • Contains Allantoin which helps protect and soothe irritated skin
  • Non-staining formula so you don’t have to worry about unsightly marks
  • Compare our value to other horse skin treatments!
  • Available in a 16 oz. & 32 oz spray bottle

CLICK HERE to learn more! 

 Article Sources:

TheHorse.com: Tail Rubbing In Horses

Common Equine Skin Conditions

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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