Spur marking during shedding season?
Alright... well here goes. I'm embarrassed to be posting this at all, but please bear with me, and please don't think ill of me.
Ronan is a very skin-sensitive horse. He hates the sensation of something lightly touching him (i.e. flies, my reins sitting lightly on his neck) - so sensitive that I have to keep a fly sheet on him during the summer and spray him with fly spray otherwise he's miserable. He's so sensitive that he's the only horse I've ever known to not get bot eggs on his legs - he doesn't allow them to land long enough.
HOWEVER... he's VERY lazy and VERY unreactive 99% of the time. (He can have his "moments" but other than that, he's very quiet). He needs a TON of leg to get him going and keep forward momentum. So I usually ride in spurs, and only engage them as needed. I've ridden in the same set of spurs since I bought him in May and he's been absolutely fine. My legs are fairly strong and pretty quiet - though I will be having a video taken ASAP to make sure that is the case.
- I'm actively trying to get him less dead-sided by carrying a crop, and employing the "ask, tell, demand" method.
- Since I bought a new saddle that fits correctly, he is more willing to move out and forward; so the saddle seems to have been a problem and may have been pinching or rubbing, causing him to simply not want to move forwards.
Anyways, moving on - in the past couple of weeks, ever since he started shedding and growing his winter coat, my spurs and even heel has rubbed hair off his side. Of course I felt awful as soon as I saw it, and took my spurs off, but it seems to not make a lick of difference, and I find I have to use *more* leg to get him to move out.
I went and bought $55 Stubben "soft touch" spurs that seem to be doing better... but I'm still concerned.
When I talked to the gal at the tack store, she suggested that because he's shedding, his hair follicles are open to allow the winter coat in and summer coat out, and that this happens to thinner-skinned horses.
He doesn't seem bothered by it in the least. He doesn't shimmy away from my leg, gives no indication of being uncomfortable while I'm riding... nothing. Not even a tail-swish, or anything of any sort to indicate discomfort. Hell, he's just as unreactive to leg as before. He doesn't seem bothered in the least by my touching the area with my hand either. Really, overall he doesn't seem fussed at all.
Has anyone ever heard of this happening? What can I do to prevent this?
I feel just awful and I've adapted my leg and riding to allow the spot to heal up, as well I've taken a more proactive approach to getting him to move off soft leg contact and of course the new saddle seems to have made a big difference in his willingness to move forwards.
I sure as hell don't want anyone to think ill of me or my riding. I was completely shocked when I got off and noticed the rub, and (as I said) took my spurs off to let it heal, but the same rub occurred with my heel too, as well he was fine all the way through the summer...
My coach and barn buddies have all assured me to not worry. My coach has ridden Ronan on a number of occasions and knows how truly lazy he is, and says that he's just a thin-skinned horse.
*Note* Also, there's a calcification lump on his back (vet said it's normal and nothing to be the least bit concerned about) that has hair rubbed off of it as well, a bit, when it hadn't all summer as well.
sI won't judge you at all - you must be feeling awful as it is! :-)
Brock was super dead to the leg when I bought him. I mean, DEAD. No move. At all. (Which was a major issue because he was also really stiff laterally and I needed either a one-rein-stop or lots of forward to prevent a bucking episode...) I was riding in 1.5 inch disk spurs, using them with some force and getting no reaction. Super frustrating and made me feel incredibly bad...
Anyway the way I went about it was this. I got off and spent a few days training him to respond instantly to voice cues on the lunge (at first with the help of a good lash or two with the whip - as horrible as that sounds, it only needed to be done then and he's not needed it since). I then rode him (still in spurs) but didn't use my leg at all until I needed a transition or increase in energy. I actually kept the leg from touching his side until I needed it and then would apply a bump and a voice cue together. If he didn't respond, I'd do a good kick with the spurs and a voice cue. I also carried a dressage whip but that was more to remind him of his shoulder and hindquarters and to travel straight (given his lack of lateral mouth and the lack of leg application between transitions). I slowly made the voice cues quieter and quieter until I didn't use them anymore. At the same time I made my "bumps" softer and softer (making sure he was still responding the same) and started reintroducing my leg to his side. It worked a treat, since then he has moved off a squeeze so I can keep my leg on and have him on the aids. I still ride with spurs but I haven't actually needed to use them more than a handful of times (all when he was napping).
I always felt guilty riding some of the clipped horses in the winter because my legs would rub them raw. I didn't ride in spurs either. Looked horrible since the horse had bright pink skin. It never seemed to bother them touching the raw marks either but I put on MTG after every ride and the hair would grow back. Maybe try putting on some MTG on the marks till it heals up.
EHOD - yes, we are working on getting him more responsive to my leg. I believe, though, that he's terribly thin-skinned... Sigh. I can't lose weeks of riding during shedding season, hah.
CK - Thanks for the reply - I hope that maybe when he's clipped, it won't be as bad.. here's to hoping! I worry about using MTG though as it has sulphur in it and he's already very sensitive?
It's happening at my barn too. Little girl came in and rode her pony without spurs the other night (pony had been out in the field and had just moved inside) and when she got off him he had a big old rub marks on his sides and it was just starting to look red.....but the hair just fell out, she was just trotting around for ten minutes and she used her crop! She looked like she was very embarrassed!
I have just started riding my guy in western spurs, he is very sensitive but knows when I'm not wearing them.....and is LAAAAZY! As soon as I get on him and I'm wearing the spurs he moves out, I don't need to touch him, (most of the time!) it's all psychological!!!! but I'm concerned about leaving any kind of 'suspect' marks on his sides....it's real bad press!!
Have you thought about clipping him? Just to make it all look the same and not so obvious? Oooooor you could put a salve on his sides where the spurs touch to protect the skin while your riding so not to flare the area up? That way your spur will have some lube around it and perhaps reduce the friction that's causing the hair loss/rub? Just a thought.
MG - he's getting clipped in the next couple of weeks... not to "hide" it, but because he's in hard work (5 days a week) and I'm hoping it might help the rubbing... he didn't show any signs of rubbing at all during the summer - the only thing that has changed is his coat. I'll definitely look at a salve thought!!
Just means he is being used & worked, he is not bleeding, he has some hairs rubbed off. No big deal, I bet no one notices except you.
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We used salve a lot on young horses who were naturally getting rubs when being started, because they had sensitive skin, ie. not accustomed to girths etc. I've also used it for the dreaded blanket rub on the fronts of the shoulders!!! Grrrr and not matter how well that picking blanket fits, it still leaves a rub - no matter how many adjustments are made!
If you can't fine a 'healing' salve, just buy a big tub of vaseline:-)
Whew!!! Ok I feel like less of an awful owner/rider now... thank goodness!!! I thought I might get torn a new one...
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