The less time a tick is attached to the horse, the less risk of disease. Some research says that tick removal within 24 hours is the key to preventing infection, especially Lyme’s disease. A daily inspection will help you find and remove ticks in a timely fashion.
Skin checks are is particularly important for horses ridden on wooded trails or in deep grass areas. Use both hands to search for ticks on your horse. Look carefully along the belly, in the groin area, under the tail and mane, beneath the chin and within the armpits. Ticks can attach anywhere, but they particularly like the softer, less densely haired areas of the horse’s body, which are often areas also well-shielded from the environment.
Removal of a tick is done with care to avoid leaving any mouthparts embedded in the horse’s skin. Using tweezers, grasp the tick’s mouthparts close to the skin and apply gentle traction without twisting. Check that you have indeed removed all mouthparts and the head.
You might want to have the live tick sent to a lab for testing for Lyme disease. Consult your veterinarian as to the logistics involved. Otherwise, the tick can be destroyed with flame, by immersing it a jar containing alcohol or formalin, or by flushing it down the toilet.
Insecticides, such as permethrin or cypermethrin wipe-on or spray products, shampoos, or powders applied to a horse’s hair coat, are helpful. However, they aren’t guaranteed to prevent ticks from attaching, biting and transmitting disease. Topical repellents usually wear off in four to eight hours.
The canine Lyme disease vaccine has used off-label on horses in endemic parts of the country, but researchers have found that canine Lyme disease vaccines induce only transient and low-magnitude antibody responses in horses.