With the days and nights getting colder, many horse owners are bringing out blankets to keep their equines dry and warm. However, the very thing that is supposed to keep them comfortable can often lead to sores and rubs.
Caused by a blanket that doesn’t fit quite right – either too small or too tight – blanket sores are often found on the neck and shoulders, however, they can develop anywhere the blanket touches.
Ranging in degree from minor hairless areas to relatively large, open, raw wounds, blanket sores are highly uncomfortable to the horse and if left untreated, they can lead to infection and scarring.
While some horses and breeds are susceptible to blanket sores no matter how well the fit, many can be spared the discomfort with a little extra caution and care. Things like placing a shoulder protector, mane tamer or other thin, tight-fitting undergarment beneath the blanket, checking on the horse throughout the day to ensure the blanket hasn’t shifted or torn, and paying close attention to how the blanket sits on your horse, particularly for those with prominent withers, can all help prevent rubs from developing. To check pressure on your horse’s withers, place your hand between the blanket and wither and have him lower his head to see how much pressure is there.
There are early signs to watch for before a blanket sore forms. These include discomfort, rubbing of the hairs, white hairs, and bald spots. If you notice any of these signs, adjust or replace the blanket so that the area is no longer being rubbed. You will also want to treat the area with a liberal amount of ointment, such as Nature’s Aid for Pets skin gel, in order to soothe the sore, reduce scarring and promote healing and new hair growth.
If the sore appears red, pus-filled or infected, consult your veterinarian immediately.
For first time blanket-buyers, obtaining the correct measurements will go a long way in reducing the likelihood of blanket sores. To ensure you are getting the right size, simply measure (in inches) from the middle of your horse’s chest, across their barrel to the point on the hindquarters that is just before the tail. If the measurement is in between sizes, consult with the company’s website to determine if you should round up or down in size.
If you have found that your horse is difficult to fit properly, there are blanket options with an adjustable front closure, and neck and shoulder gusset. The more adjustable the blanket is, the easier it will be for you to create a tailored fit.
Knowing what to look for, being proactive in checking your horse for early signs of sores, and applying gel to protect the area at the first signs of a blanket sore, will go a long way in keeping your horse healthy, comfortable and happy.