How can you help the horse with spur marks or rubs?
This topic will certainly get some “discussion” on social media – and let us try and be optimistic here. Horses can get spur rubs AKA spur marks for TONS of reasons, almost all of which have nothing to do with “bad riding.” So let’s glaze over that and work on correcting the rub if one should happen.
- I’ll also note that spurs are REQUIRED by the official rules in some disciplines. If you show, and your horse is likely to get spur marks, know the rules so you can experiment at home with solutions before you get to the show.
How to prevent spur rubs
- Adjust the style of spur you use. Some spurs don’t even have necks, and some look like a flat and wide disc. Other styles of spurs have rolling pieces that glide over your horse. Some spurs are rubber-coated.
- Adjust how the spur sits on your boot. Many riding boots have spur rests, further up the heel. Nothing says you MUST use the spur rest, you can adjust the spurs lower on your boot. Yeah for straps!
- Speaking of straps – be sure the buckle of the spur strap is on the outside of your foot. Some super-sensitive horses lose all of their hair at the mere thought of a leg touching them, much less a buckle or a zipper.
Cover the area or cover the spur
- Borrow a trick from another discipline. Racehorse grooms sometimes use a latex bandage on the legs, and some riders have adapted this latex bandage to cover bits. Turns out, you can also wrap spurs with this magic bandage.
- Use a specialty belly wrap on your horse. These remind me of shapewear for horses, and they lovingly protect your horse from tack and spur rubs. You’ll also need to check your discipline’s rules if you show.
- Pick up a specialty saddle pad. These saddle pads have an extra-long flap extension thing to cover where the back of your boot lands. Are they better than a belly guard thing? Maybe? It’s all one big experiment, anyway.
- Leave the hair where your leg rests on your horse unclipped. Most of us have seen horses with body clips or trace clips, with a little square of hair to protect the skin.
- Clip the hair. On the other hand, some horses react wildly when anything rubs their long hair. I’ve seen it with girths and nosebands that get long winter hair caught, and I’ve seen it with spurs.
- Use grooming products to create a slick surface. You may be able to get away with extra sheen spray, or you may need to add some grooming oil, or you may need to go all out with some body glide. Body glide is magic stuff that most runners and hikers swear helps irritants guide over the skin and hair.
You may need to look beyond the spur and the mark and go “big picture.”
- Does the tack fit the rider AND the horse? If you are wiggling around or cramped into a saddle that doesn’t fit, your leg might be doing extra movements.
- Also, explore different stirrup lengths or even a new saddle type. Even if you rider jumpers, a few days a week in a dressage saddle might do the trick to give that sensitive area a rest.
- Think about what sort of boots your ride in. Paddocks and half chaps are convenient but don’t offer the stability the way tall boots do. Maybe less leg wiggle will help?
What do you do for a spur mark that’s there already?
- This depends on the type of mark.
- Is there an open wound? Call your vet for a treatment plan and forgo any activity that could worsen the situation.
- Is the hair missing? You probably want to try one of the methods above. This is a warning that things could escalate, and it’s time to step in. You can use MTG to help the hair grow back in.
- Is there a scar? If you have a scar and go to shows, you may be able to “paint” on a cover-up. Check the rules! Pigmented products match many horse colors to camouflage scars and bald patches.
You may need to try a combination of things to find something that works. And stuff like this is just one more reason to thoroughly inspect your horse before and after every single ride!
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