Saddle Rubbing Withers

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Saddle Rubbing Withers

This is a discussion on Saddle Rubbing Withers within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    01-29-2012, 09:28 AM
Saddle Rubbing Withers

Good morning...the title is a little deceptive..her eis the problem. I have a new horse who is underweight (vet says about 50-100 pounds) and is lacking muscle. As such, the area to the sides of the withers are sunken rather than rounded like one would see in a well weighted and muscled horse.

When placed on the bare back and without weight or pressure, my saddle fits pressure at all on the withers. When adding pressure, however, it sinks enough, owing to that lack of muscle to the sides of the withers, to allow it to touch and rub.

I have tried three pads, two pads with pillow wraps (one once, two once) draped over the wither area in between the two pads, a half back wither relief under the pad once, over the pad at another try, without luck. The horse rolled in the paddock and created his own open wither rub but my saddle and pads are keeping it from healing...I can see a little blood on the bottom of the pad. Even if he hadn't created the open wound himself, eventually, going on the slight bleeding under the pad, it would have been a rub anyway. I am treating the wound itself with Neosporin but the constant rubbing isn't allowing it to actually heal over.

I have several calls into a saddle fitter but haven't as yet heard back; am thinking she is possibly in Ocala as several people who have used her indicate she does go down. Not sure that saddle fit is the issue here but more of trying to figure out how to "shim" those sunken areas to either side of the wither until the horse gains weight and muscle.

Any ideas on what to use or what else to try?
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    01-29-2012, 11:00 AM
Maybe do a lot of excersize to build that muscle up before you ride again. If the saddle keeps opening the wound wouldn't it be logical to stop riding until it's healed??
    01-29-2012, 11:05 AM
Stop riding is logical yes but I am trying to avoid that if at all possible. If I can figure out a way to get the saddle to fit properly, I would prefer to keep up the training as we are going.
    01-29-2012, 11:17 AM
I would try not riding even though its something you don't want to do. Let the rubs heal and leave the saddle off until you hear from the saddle fitter. You can lunge and continue working him/her but I wouldn't want to create any permanent damage because of the saddle. I would also check to see if there are any loose screws underneath your saddle that are creating the rubs and bleeding. This happened to me with my horse, he was sound on the ground with the saddle but once I sat in the saddle and put pressure on his back he went lame. He ended up falling while I was riding him because of the pain and after having the saddle fitter come out and tighten one screw we haven't had a problem since.
    01-29-2012, 11:19 AM
Why would you prefer to keep working an underweight horse in a saddle that does not presently fit? You can say all you want about how it fits properly on the horse's bare back with no weight in the saddle, but if it rubs when a rider's weight is introduced, it simply does not fit. It may well fit when the horse's weight is back where it should be, but it does not now.

If your vet finds it appropriate for the horse to be in work at this weight and present level of health, then I would suggest you find a way to work the horse on the ground.
Wallaby, smrobs, Kayty and 4 others like this.
    01-29-2012, 01:54 PM
    01-29-2012, 02:07 PM
A saddlefitter will tell you, forget trying to compensate with pads, you need a proper fitting saddle, the pad is just there to keep your saddle clean. Either get a saddle that fit that horse, meaning it clears his withers or get an interchangable gullet saddle and measure the horse every few months as he gains weight/muscle. Sorry it's the only solution I see.
Skyseternalangel likes this.
    01-29-2012, 05:41 PM
A saddle will almost never rub if it fits the horse, so obviously the saddle doesn't fit. I would wait until the horse is a little more filled out, or at least until his rubs have healed, then have a saddle fitter come out and fit a saddle to your horse..
    01-29-2012, 07:52 PM
I would definitely not ride with the saddle if the withers is sore and has a "cut". Especially if the saddle is not fitting. Even though you want to keep your horse in training, it will just make things worse by causing your horse pain which can then cause behavior problems. Maybe you could ride with a bareback pad or just bareback if you want to ride. :)
    01-30-2012, 04:02 PM
I think I got it yesterday when I added a breastplate to the mix. I put the wither relief pad directly on his back with another pad over top. I rode for about 15 mins and checked and there was no sign that the rub had re-rerubbed. It could be that the saddle was sliding just enough to cause an excess of the pressure and re-opening the rub. Now, on a sight issue here, this isn't a "cut" just sort of like a rug burn type rub about 1/4 inch long. Still, I have groundwork plans over the next few days in any case since the weather is improving slightly and I can take advantage of some lunge time up and down some hilly paddocks to help with the muscle build up.

Just for the heck of it I put the narrower gullet onto the saddle...definitely too narrow there.

I did do a standard soreness check on his back yesterday and the area around the rub, pressing on all sides, and he wasn't flinchy at all; his movement is constant without any hitches that might indicate discomfort. Still, saddle fitter is scheduled just in case.

Appreciate the help :)

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