Found your article on the Horse City website. Early this year my mare developed hives; at first the hives would come and go. She was at my cutting trainers, who used pellets in his stalls. They put her in an outside pen, but on the really rainy days she was put in at night because the pens were very muddy.

Story originally posted by: Michael Lowder, DVM, MS

Dr. Lowder,

Once the weather got better in the spring, she was put in an outside pen. At first the hives seemed to subside, but then returned and were very bad. She was brought back in and her stall was bedded with pine shavings, which is what she’s always had with no side effects. I asked my trainer to have the vet out, which he did but not until the first week of May.

The day he came, the hives were pretty much gone. I brought her home the 2nd week of May (she’d been boarded at the trainer’s since the previous September). My vet came out right away and gave her a shot of steriods and additional oral steriods. The hives went away. She was in an unbeddedstalland a large paddock and turned out in a pasture all day. My vet said it would be best if she was turned out 24-7, but to wait until the grass dried out so she wouldn’t founder.

About week after she finished the steriods and had remained hive free, I bedded her stall with pine shavings and the hives returned. I thoroughly cleaned the stall so there wasn’t a trace of shavings and the hives went away and haven’t returned. Most of the time I bring her in at night to her stall and paddock. However, I’ve left her out for the last month because it’s so hot.

Since winter is approaching and the forecasters say that we may have more rain than usual due to El Nino, I’m thinking about adding bedding. Please note that her stall has a dirt floor with rubber mats throughout. What are your thoughts given the above and taking into consideration that using straw may be unfeasible because I have a large and old tear of the rotator cuff and will be having surgery within the next 2 months.

As it is now, I have had to hire someone to clean her paddock and can’t even saddle her my arm is in such bad shape. I can’t afford to hire someone to clean each day in the winter and have to find a solution that I can handle.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Francine Allyn


There are a number of things you can use. Try rice hulls or even shredded newspaper. You may even consider sand. Sand work well and most horses like the soft footing.

Thank You,
Dr. Lowder