Ugliest Horse Pest Ever – Oak Mites

Virtually invisible, but leaving the nastiest evidence behind on the horse.

These mites like to bite/eat like crazy on the face of the horse.  The bites itch and irritate immensely, leaving bumps and welts behind along with raw, scarred crusted patches of skin.   The horse’s own serum react with the bites, creating yellow oozing and coat loss.

Enough of bites are very painful for the horse – Valiosa’s entire body is reacting to them, with swollen glands between her cheeks, lower jaw, and at the throat latch.

That pristine mare right here?

grey horse with french braid

No more.  Now she looks more like a bottom-budget scabies-ridden call girl – one look at her, you regret you ever.  Called…

Extremely visible on a gray horse.  Let’s just say no one is going to steal her any time soon.

Google “Oak Mites on horses” and there’s very skimpy results.  Feather mites etc, sure, but the Oak Mites are very different, and most of the search results are for human exposure.  (Where sometimes steroid injections are needed due to  major secondary bacterial infections.)


Oak leaf gall mites are parasites that live inside galls on the leaves of oak trees. Pesticides sprayed on infected trees are not an effective control measure since the mites live inside the galls, which act as a protective coating.

Usually, the horse will have a larger reaction during first exposure.  Which makes sense, Valiosa is the only horse on the farm looking like she’s got scurvy.

It’s getting a bit better, but, well, she’s not exactly photo material… 😉  Soon enough though.  Of course all ears open for any Oak Mite Expert advice!

Other than this, we’re both doing fantasmic!!

Here, latest trail adventure on the farm.  (It’s not a trail ride unless the horse is actually carrying your butt around.)

hand walking horses on trail

Many gates like this, connecting all sorts of acreage.  This time we headed out by ourselves for close to an hour.  No one died. 

oak mites


Oak mites on horses

Swear this setting right here was so beautiful with shade, filtered light, moss, and a creek.  Looks like any old grass picture on the mobile, I know…

walking on trail with horse in handSnow capped Sierras in the background, but those pics were trashed since someone’s got unsightly wounds and completely ruined the view.


Appreciate all the feedback in the ongoing Barn Drive Poll!!!  Over 70 votes on the poll alone as I write this, not counting individual comments and FB messages!

This means we’re way past statistically significant.  Whoever decides what that number is.

If you haven’t voted already, get in on it here!:  Barn Drive Time Poll

It’s open for several more days.

Results this Monday!

38 thoughts on “Ugliest Horse Pest Ever – Oak Mites

  1. When we first moved the horses up to Oak Creek, they all reacted more or less to the mites. Flash, in particular was a crusty mess. The vet said it wouldn’t happen after the first year and he was right. I forgot all about it until reading this — we were seriously freaked out back then.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There we go Annette! Just what I needed to hear!
      Of course I’ve been told that all the new horses react this way, and it’s worst the first year, and all that, it’s still sort of concerning to see her all crusted up and oozing.
      Thank you for helping me feel better! 🙂
      She was at this farm 2 years ago, for less than 1 month, and that time she developed a giant swollen oozing ball around her udder, with an abscess large enough to stick my finger in. Ichk!! Hoping this time we’ll be out of the worst and her face will just heal up.


    1. Thinking you’re too far up north perhaps Teresa. Here, we have several different types of oak, and some (perhaps it’s called the California Live Oak, not sure.), although they’re deciduous sort of have leaves almost all year. I’m thinking it’s the ultimate set up for the mites – especially since days of frost there are usually less than 10/year. It’s weird, and I haven’t encountered it at any other barn.

      That said – yes!!!- incredible facility with absolutely everything you can ever wish for. I hope to show more as time goes on.


  2. Ugh!! Hate that for her. Justin got sweet itch last summer on his tail and I tried everything over the counter to help ease his itch and get rid of the midges, and coconut oil was the magic potion! Not sure if it would even help if your situation, but I use it for just about everything skin related with Justin now!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve been reluctant to putting much of anything on, since it’s all over the face, meaning she’ll get it on me, and the tack, and I worry about the eyes. Plus, with by hand in a brace covered in a giant plastic bag while at the barn, I’ve been, well, not very “handy” with anything.

      I did use a vet lotion/potion a few times, and even tried some topical (plus internal) Ivermectin. It sort of helped.
      Appreciate the coconut tip!!! I’m going to bring some out!


  3. That is way too bad!! Hope she gets better soon…:) In the meantime, leave her alone, mites!! Too bad it’s not as easy as that to make them go away! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel your pain. Star developed the worst blanket rub/nasty skin condition this winter, especially while I was gone for three weeks! Lost so much hair on her shoulders. I thought about taking pictures and writing a blog post but it was so hideous and I was so embarrassed and was afraid of the judgment and everyone telling me how I could easily have avoided it (ha – yeah, you try to avoid it). The hair is now growing in weirdly black and blotchy and she looks like a hyena. Not at all pretty. But at least there are no bald patches any more. I hope lovely Valiosa soon feels better, poor thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I’ve been thinking about you! Hope that despite the blanket rub, Star is doing great.
      Seriously, blanket rubs can happen to anyone. I’ve been lucky and have never had a serious one (frequently switching out blankets may or may not help, but I do it.). The one gelding that started up, got a really good shoulder sleazy, and that solved ALL the problems for him.

      For others, neh, not that easy to avoid and if people tell you that, they don’t really know what they’re talking about 😉

      I’ve noticed something -now that Valiosa is in a huge, hilly pasture with friends and LOTS to graze, the coat and the point of the shoulder is getting shorter. Just tons of walking around 24/7. Your Star might just be very active, so, that’s how it’s going to be. Why worry – blankets off in a few more weeks anyway?!


      1. Her rubs are o.k. now, her coat just looks really weird with the growing in spots. The groom who body clipped her clipped her super short – I think that’s where the problem started. And she does move a lot. I had a shoulder guard from the start but it wasn’t enough. It rained so much and was cold that with that short coat she had to wear a blanket (a heavy one) all the time, so it wore the hair off. With me gone for three weeks, I don’t think she got the grooming she normally would (ahem), plus she didn’t get out daily, just a few times a week. So it just got awful. I bought an amazing product when I returned called Assos chamois cream (my internet research said this was Da Bomb), and it really worked to soothe, moisturize, and help the hair grow back, but I also had to bathe her shoulders 2x a week for awhile. What a pain. So glad it’s better. Frankly, I think the warmer weather, which has allowed us to leave her naked some, and her coat coming in for the Spring, are what turned the corner. Next year I will just do a trace clip so she has more hair on her shoulders to protect her. It has been hard with all this rain, rain, rain…I do need to find something to write about, just have felt too blah to write anything (except a note to you, obviously).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, I always love reading your posts, so, whenever you’re ready 🙂

          And, remember you’re talking to the girl right here with her horse’s face engulfed in huge areas of encrusted, oozing, painful bite areas. Hmmm, major horse shame 😉
          I think the blanket rub will solve itself just fine once the spring coat starts going – too early yet.
          And what a great road cycling cycling-bib-shorts friction cream name: Assos chamois cream. Who wouldn’t buy THAT! If they haven’t hit up that market they’re missing out. 😉


          1. It IS for cycling – but horse owners, canny users of everybody else’s stuff people that we are – have adopted it to our needs. If you need it for biking, I can only tell you it’s highly recommended by bikers and it did amazing things for Star’s blanket rubs 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          2. Oh haha, love it! My hubby cycles but he’s using a European formula I got him hooked on. Probably mostly marketing come to think of it, it’s probably not even sold anywhere in Europe 🙂
            I’m with you – usually always look for a NON-equestrian product: More readily available and tons of $ saved. Sigh.


          3. Nope, sorry, not cheap, Assos is expensive but it really does work well and Star loved it when I massaged it on her shoulders. Seemed to be the highlight of her day, so that of course is: PRICELESS.

            Liked by 1 person

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