Warts are not uncommon in young horses. The scientific name for warts is Equine Papillomavirus. Weird right. Scientists always have to think of fancy names for somethings that are so simple! Other synonyms are “papillomatosis”, “grass warts”, “milk warts”, etc.
Causes for Warts in Horses
Warts are caused by a virus. Typically, once a horse gets warts, they won’t get it again. This makes it more common in younger horses and does mean it is something that can spread through the barn. While, theoretically, you could try to prevent warts from spreading throughout the barn, the virus is so benign it really isn’t of any major concern. In my barn, I don’t take any measures to isolate a horse that has warts. The other horses will either get it or they won’t and then they won’t ever get it again.
Symptoms of Warts in Horses
It was pretty evident to me that this horse had warts. I had seen cases before so I wasn’t surprised but, if you are new to horses, I could see how it would be worrisome at first.
My horse’s symptoms were small, flesh-colored irregular bumps on his nose and eyelids. They kind of looked like cauliflower. They didn’t seem to itch but would occasionally bleed if he scratched them.
You can see on the pictures below warts on the horse’s nose are very apparent. They can appear on the outside of the muzzle, on the inside of the nose/nostril etc. This particular horse would rub them on the fence occasionally causing them to bleed.
Horse Warts Treatment
Keep in mind I’m not a vet so if you are ever worried about something you see on your horse’s skin, by all means, take a picture and send it off to your vet for confirmation.
Warts usually self resolve so the best treatment is just to leave them alone. It’s never anything I’ve worried about a horse getting. I’ve owned over a hundred horses and only had the one get them but I’ve seen lots of babies with them.
For this horse, warts came and went away without too much incident. None of the other horses in the barn contracted them but they were all older. He didn’t have any lasting effects or scarring from his warts.
Buying a Horse with Grass Warts
If I were looking to buy a horse, I certainly would never pass a horse with warts over just because of warts. I also don’t quarantine a horse with warts. While unsightly they dissipate within a few months.
In my own experience with warts, if my horse would rub against a tie rail or something, he might scrape one off and bleed a bit. I’d treat it as I would any other normal scrape with ointment or salve and not worry about it.
pictures of warts on horses
Here are some pictures of a champagne quarter horse stallion I once owned and his warts.
If your horse does get warts, you should write down when you first noticed them in your horse’s records. Remember to check them weekly and note any changes. It can take a few months for the warts to go away. Logging when you noticed them and any changes will help you realize how long your horse has actually had them versus how long it feels!
What is your experience?
Do you have a horse with warts? How old was your horse when he got them? Did they go away on their own? Do you want to share pictures with others? Leave a note in the comments below!!