Treating sores and rub marks on your horse


Anytime there is repetitive friction against your horse, he can develop a rub or sore.  They are common on hocks, fetlocks, and hips from sleeping and rolling. Some rub marks on your horse are caused by equipment, such as blankets, bridles, saddles, and girths. Sometimes the best thing to do is change equipment or find a way to alter it!

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You will find ruffled and broken hairs before a full-blown rub or sore is evident.


Dealing with blanket sores


  • Finding another brand, style, or size with a looser chest area, or larger gussets by the shoulder often helps.


  • There are also new blankets that are bib-like in front, the fabric swings under the neck and closes on the wither.



  • Generally speaking, I have found that rubs are better prevented with slippery fabrics instead of sheepskin or fleece.


  • I love to use a friction block or body glide product on areas that are prone to irritations. The products are designed for runners and hikers for blisters and chafe but can work well on horses, too.



This bed sore rub won’t be affected by tack, but a blanket may need some more padding.



For neck rubs from blankets, you can use an old quilt. You can also stitch an old quilt to cover the hip area of your horse’s blanket for more padding.



Helping saddle sores


  • An adjustment is necessary to the tree, the flocking, or both to help with saddle sores..


  • I have seen some folks add more pads when they actually need less. This is very similar to adding more socks to a shoe that gives you blisters. You will put more pressure on that blister!


  • Consider consulting with a master saddle fitter to adjust your flocking and/or tree. This article here can also explain some other signs of a poorly fitted saddle.



For spur rubs, this can be tricky.


  • The first thing to do is know that you will need to leave that area alone as much as possible so the hair can grow back. Talk with your trainer, also, and come up with a plan for new spurs or new training. Can you ditch the spurs for a while?


  • There are specialty saddle pads and belly bands that cover those areas and help prevent more damage from the spurs. 



Rubs from the grazing muzzle and halter – easily remedied with some fleece.


Help for bridles and halters


  • Consider some fleece or padding to the crownpiece.


  • Consider a fly bonnet for use if you are riding. Bug control and skin protection all in one.


  • If the rubs are on the sides of the face, use a bunch of vaseline or baby butt cream before you tack up. A zinc oxide cream is a good choice, as it does not melt as easily as other ointments. If you use a petroleum-based product, be warned that this can inhibit oxygen getting to the skin and can slow hair growth. Try a cream based if you are considering using an ointment all the time.


  • You could also switch to a leather halter.


  • In the summer, some horses tend to lose hair on the face from sweat and bugs, cover up with a fly mask.



Fly bonnets can help prevent rubs from the bridle.


Helping girth galls


  • Some horses do fine with a sheepskin girth cover, while others are even more irritated by them. If the rub opens, please chat with your vet and consider letting it heal before you ride again. This is called a gall sore, and you can read more about them here. I think it’s totally ok to use a girth cover and some slippery cream simultaneously as double protection. Although the laundry won’t be too much fun!


For hock sores and fetlock sores


  • An upside-down bell boot can cover your horse’s pastern and fetlock, giving him some rub protection. Or you can use Sox for Horses, these cover so many things and also help prevent scratches and other dermatitis stuff.


  • Hock sores can be helped with some ointment, some Elasitkon, and a hock covering.



These fetlock shields can help.




It’s totally awesome that horses can also wear socks. For flies, rubs, scratches, stomping, and more. Find these Silver Whinnys at Sox for Horses.




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