Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Let me preface this post with the fact that I can be a Nervous Nancy about my animals.

Large chunks are just wet saw dust; she is wet because I sponged her off hoping it would help the area.

The  not-so-bad side that has since lost the hair, but not as bad as the left side.

I noticed first one, and then the other, crop up on Q's back early last week. She'd had 4 days off work as I was out of town. So sometime between Wednesday Aug. 22 and Monday Aug. 27 these spots started up.

I never noticed any swelling, redness, tenderness, bleeding, etc. No signs whatsoever. By the time I noticed these spots (the larger one in particular as it is worse) they were SUPER flaky with dead skin and hair falling out. The hairs each had follicle + dead skin attached. This is being replaced by white hair. =(

The week prior to her issue was the week that our Spruce trip took place. Over that week she rode a total of 39 miles. 25 miles of long slow distance over gnarly terrain; 14 fast miles over flat-flat-flat (what...we have that inWV?!) terrain. I had washed two of her pads prior to the Spruce trip. Could the detergent coupled with long days in the saddle have agitated her?

I have NEVER noticed irregular sweat marks from my saddle/pads/girth. She got through all pre-race training without any issues. She has never been tender on her back. She doesn't flip her tail, pin her ears, pinch her nostrils/flinch away when I put a steady, heavy, equal pressure over an area. Sure, if I poke her with my finger she gets agitated and moves off it; I have pointy little fingers, I would move away from that, too!

I put Nu-Stock on both spots last Tuesday when I noticed them. The flakiness cleared up within the next day, definitely within two days. It appears that predominantly white hairs are growing in.

Is my saddle/pads/the way I ride affecting her? 

Should I purchase something more along the lines of a Toklat woolback pad instead of my current all-purpose pads? (Something I'd planned to do, but didn't seem to be immediately necessary as she had no issues before...)

What does this sound like/look like to you? 

How should I treat it? How would you treat it?

Do you have any experience with something like this?

Do I need to stop riding her? Apply anti-chafing/cooling/anything ointments?


  1. I don't even know, dude. it definitely looks like a tack issue to me - there's no marks anywhere else on her body like that? And she's half-Arab? It's kinda the price you pay for horses that are easy to cool/pulse down - they're more sensitive, poor things.

    She's muscled up, I'm sure; does the saddle still fit the same? And yeah, I'd suspect the detergent too, but I have no real advice. :(

  2. Looks and sounds like rain-rot to me (with the flaky skin, etc.) I'd wash with fungal shampoo (preferably MicroTek) and keep it dry while taking a break from riding for a few days. It seems strange that they would show up while you were away if they were caused by ill fitting tack. More likely, the fungus was in your saddle pads and it festered while you weren't bathing her for a few days so it was really able to take hold. I would wash all your saddle pads with MicroTek too. You can just put it in your washer like detergent.

  3. You can also post here and get some holistic options as well; http://www.facebook.com/zephyrsgarden
    She makes an anti fungal/itch spray as well that may work out.
    I agree with Dom, looks like a fungal issue.

  4. Hi Liz! The description of the issue sounds like a fungal problem, but the white hairs growing in are typical of a saddle fit issue. What does she do if you currycomb the area? Does she tolerate it? A certified saddle fitter told me once that a reaction to a fingernail run very lightly over the back of the horse is more indicative of a problem with saddle fit than a reaction to steady pressure. If you do this and she flinches, it indicates a problem. The location of the skin irritation is also where the weightbearing points of the saddle would touch her back, and are also the places that really muscle up when the horse is being worked properly-could the saddle fit have changed with Q's conditioning? Some horses are just stoic and won't show signs of pain when the fit of their saddles changes-I keep coming back to a saddle fit problem also because this popped up a few days after long-distance riding over varying terrain where she would've also been working her back more.

    I'd try the Micro-Tek shampoo regardless: it's gentle and it should help with the skin irritation/flaking. I'd probably let this clear up/dry out a bit before riding, and when riding, I would try a thinner pad under the saddle: a big bulky pad will make a tight saddle fit even tighter across her back (I had this problem with Lily and my previous gelding). Just to see what happens with a thinner pad-it might be enough to allow the saddle to fit correctly again. And since I'm kind of a freak with saddle fit (I went through 4 saddles in a year trying to find one that would fit Lily!), I'd probably call my saddle fitter out too, just to get a professional opinion. But that's just me. :)