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View Full Version : White hairs under saddle bars....later?



Nike13
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:13 AM
So, I took blankets off yesterday and my gelding has developed a sprinkling of white hairs that seem to be in line with the bars of my saddle. He's been off for about 7wks, due to the weather. While in heavy training last season he was never sore-backed and always received good scores at vet checks. Should I be worried about saddle fit? He's a tall, good withered QH, and I ride him in a Prorider barrel saddle, semi-QH bars. It appears to fit him well, doesn't pinch his withers at all. I've ridden him in this saddle for 3 years, but last year we rode a lot more that in past years. I use a 100? wool felt pad, (the really thick kind). Any thoughts?

chicamuxen1
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:34 AM
Typically, existiing hair doesn't turn white. When new hair grows in, in an area that has had excess pressure or trauma, that new hair will be white. So the damage being done to your horses back was probably going on for some time. The saddle fits too tightly in the area that the white hair has appeared. Using a thicker pad just makes the fit even tighter, like wearing shoes that are too tight then putting thicker socks on.

Going to a thinner pad may help, but it may not be enough. This is what is so frustrating about saddles with rigid trees. A few treed saddle have adjustable panels which can allow you to adjust the fit as the horse changes.

Anyway, many horses are very stoic about their saddles. I had a mare that always got A's on her back but routinely got white patches as I had her saddle reflocked and reflocked and reflocked!!!!!!! What a waste of $$$$$

Bonnie S.

pj
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:35 AM
If the white hairs are just appearing where the bars of your saddle are then I personally would be concerned.
Unfortunately some horses are very stoic and won't "tell" you their backs are sore.

analise
Jan. 13, 2010, 12:10 PM
Dumb question but:

What if your horse is white over his back and doesn't show soreness?

(I'm not saying I suspect my guy is having problems, I just want to know for future reference as he seems the stoic sort)

Georgiatrails
Jan. 13, 2010, 01:35 PM
My suggestion would to call in a saddle fitter. I had that same issue with a saddle that was made for my mare - however with time there back changes and when she came out, I was able to fix the problem with a shim pad - it raised the saddle up off her shoulders where all the pressure was. You can put in shims or take out shims in different places - wherever you need them. Instead of wasting money trying this or that - just call in an expert from the get go. She said in most cases the owner don't need a new saddle, just some adjustments! Good luck, I know how frustrating it is

minuspride
Jan. 13, 2010, 01:46 PM
I was told that white hairs where your saddle sits can mean that the saddle is possibly not allowing blood to flow properly to those spots and they in turn will become white. Probably best to check with a saddle fitter.

Good luck!

Beverley
Jan. 13, 2010, 02:42 PM
Yep, I've got a horse that shows the 'delayed reaction' via white hairs too. He's on his 3rd western saddle (sucker just keeps growing) and I'm having the saddle fitter out on Monday to check out the English saddle. He's a hard to fit horse, weird conformation including asymmetry- but the only time he really complained by dancing a bit was first time ridden in a couple of months, when he had outgrown that saddle during the off time!

Happily, because I do constantly check fit- this horse literally changes shape over night, sometimes- white hairs that have cropped up have shed out on the next hair growth cycle. But- when it occurs, those hairs show up without any complaints from the horse as to saddle fit- including hard all day riding on mountain steeps where you would 'think' saddle pain would cause complaints!

sublimequine
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:28 PM
Just to eliminate other possibilities, is the horse blanketed? Could the blanket be causing rubs/white hairs?

cowgurly
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:34 PM
I had this issue with my horse too, no back complains but white hairs! So I got a new saddle and pad (I was using a neoprene one before and think that may have been a contributing factor too?) and have been riding in it for about 2 months....the white hairs are still there though. No new ones, just the same ones as before. Does anybody know how long should it take for them to go away? Just wondering if perhaps this new saddle isn't fitting him right either.

pj
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:41 PM
the white hairs are still there though. No new ones, just the same ones as before. Does anybody know how long should it take for them to go away? Just wondering if perhaps this new saddle isn't fitting him right either.

If they do go away i don't have a clue how long it would take but sadly if much damage was done they probably won't.
I've got one here who I bought with a white patch on either side of his withers.
Poor guy. He evidently was ridden in a terrible saddle for a long time.
Hopefully if you just have white hairs and not solid white it will go away.

cowgurly
Jan. 13, 2010, 10:45 PM
If they do go away i don't have a clue how long it would take but sadly if much damage was done they probably won't.
I've got one here who I bought with a white patch on either side of his withers.
Poor guy. He evidently was ridden in a terrible saddle for a long time.
Hopefully if you just have white hairs and not solid white it will go away.

Thanks! They are just white hairs, not solid, so I hope they go away. I bought this horse in August and only rode him for 2 months in the old saddle/pad when I noticed the white hairs. I borrowed a different one that seemed to fit him better until my new one came in. There's not many, but it is noticeable.

SouthernTrailsGA
Jan. 13, 2010, 11:06 PM
The white Hairs are caused by too much pressure on the hair follicle which because of lack of blood circulation is damaged and causes the pigment to come out of the hair as it grows

Depending on severity of a bad Saddle fit, it can take 6 months to a year to show up, also depending on severity and length of time said Saddle is on, many Horse will always have the the white hairs.

If the hairs are in a straight line it is a very bad saddle fit, if the hairs are sporadic and in small circle, this could be a lesser problem such as too thick of padding, not having the Saddle in the Pocket (wrong place) or not keeping or having the cinch tight enough, these hairs can come back out in a year or two the correct color.

On White Horses about the only way to tell is a major dry spot when all other areas around the dry spot are wet.


.

cowgurly
Jan. 14, 2010, 03:28 AM
The white Hairs are caused by too much pressure on the hair follicle which because of lack of blood circulation is damaged and causes the pigment to come out of the hair as it grows

Depending on severity of a bad Saddle fit, it can take 6 months to a year to show up, also depending on severity and length of time said Saddle is on, many Horse will always have the the white hairs.

If the hairs are in a straight line it is a very bad saddle fit, if the hairs are sporadic and in small circle, this could be a lesser problem such as too thick of padding, not having the Saddle in the Pocket (wrong place) or not keeping or having the cinch tight enough, these hairs can come back out in a year or two the correct color.

On White Horses about the only way to tell is a major dry spot when all other areas around the dry spot are wet.


.

Great info! Thank you! I only had the one ill fitting saddle on him a couple of months, as soon as the white hairs showed up I took it off him. And they are sporadic so hopefully they will go away eventually now that I have a better fitting saddle. Thanks!!

SPF10
Jan. 14, 2010, 06:36 AM
Yes check saddle/pad fit, white hairs appear after follicle damage. Our mare liked to stick her head under the fence for grass and rubbed a spot raw, once we got it healed the hair grew back white.

Another possibility is that the coat is just changing, have a reg. sorrell QH, registered at 5 months, now is 8 yrs and is a red roan, roaning is heavier when she has her winter coat.

analise
Jan. 14, 2010, 11:26 AM
On White Horses about the only way to tell is a major dry spot when all other areas around the dry spot are wet.


.

That's pretty much what I figured. *sigh* (at least that's a quicker way to find out than waiting for white hairs to show up? Assuming I ever work the big pony hard enough for him to get really sweaty)

wendy
Jan. 14, 2010, 03:42 PM
it doesn't have to be in an ill-fitting saddle for a long time for permanent white hairs to show up- I know of a horse who was ridden lightly for all of three weeks in a clearly too-narrow saddle ("waiting for the new one to arrive"), was then put into a professionally fitted saddle; three months later when the winter coat came in, so did white hairs where the saddle bars sit. And stayed white for years.

goeslikestink
Jan. 14, 2010, 03:54 PM
So, I took blankets off yesterday and my gelding has developed a sprinkling of white hairs that seem to be in line with the bars of my saddle. He's been off for about 7wks, due to the weather. While in heavy training last season he was never sore-backed and always received good scores at vet checks. Should I be worried about saddle fit? He's a tall, good withered QH, and I ride him in a Prorider barrel saddle, semi-QH bars. It appears to fit him well, doesn't pinch his withers at all. I've ridden him in this saddle for 3 years, but last year we rode a lot more that in past years. I use a 100? wool felt pad, (the really thick kind). Any thoughts?

get your saddle looked at and flocked as saddles should be done at least once a year

Nike13
Jan. 14, 2010, 04:13 PM
Since it is a western saddle, flocking isn't an option. What about a gel pad? I know the Impact Gel pads are supposed to be really good. Anyone have success with that? This is all assuming I don't need an entirely new saddle.
For the record, he is not a stoic horse. He's affectionately known as The Pansy.:) That's why I was surprised at the white hairs, since he's not one to suffer in silence.

Beverley
Jan. 14, 2010, 05:42 PM
Whether a gel pad is an answer- or whether, in general, 'more' or 'less' padding is the answer, really depends on where you are getting the pressure. And, if you fix 'that' area (along the bars of the saddle if I recall your original post)- do you do something somewhere else?

I know that with my 6 yo, whose very pricey saddle does fit well- I use either thin navajo or thicker felt pad throughout the summer- depending on changes in his musculature. Mostly the issue with him is ensuring that the crupper is on when we need it for steep terrain.

Put the saddle on with out any padding (or with very thin padding, even a bed sheet folded over) and check for pressure points. Then, I like to ride for an hour or so with a clean single layer navajo that is light in color, and can tell if there are pressure points that way - if you have really clean spots standing out, that is where the saddle is perhaps too tight.

JumpQH
Jan. 23, 2010, 05:22 PM
I had this happen with a horse. He was in a semi-QH bars Western saddle. He never complained or showed signs of a sore back. I bought a wide, full-QH bars saddle, and voila, no additional white hairs.

wendybird
Jan. 23, 2010, 06:58 PM
You need another properly fitted saddle with a wider tree. If you really want to stay with western saddles you might consider the arabian tree, which is slightly flared at the front.
The white hairs will not disappear.
The narrow tree you are using will inhibit shoulder movement ie: horse is unable to maintain an extended trot, and eventually cause front end unsoundness.

RedHorses
Jan. 26, 2010, 10:19 PM
I had this issue with my horse too, no back complains but white hairs! So I got a new saddle and pad (I was using a neoprene one before and think that may have been a contributing factor too?) and have been riding in it for about 2 months....the white hairs are still there though. No new ones, just the same ones as before. Does anybody know how long should it take for them to go away? Just wondering if perhaps this new saddle isn't fitting him right either.

If the white hairs are going to go away they're likely to disappear with his coat change in the spring. If you bought in August that was when the winter coat was growing in so they're going to stay at least until he sheds the winter coat.

My QH was terribly sensitive to poor saddle fit and developed white hairs in various shapes a number of times during his growing years. Each time I fixed the problem and the white hairs disappeared at the next shedding.

jeano
Jan. 27, 2010, 10:32 AM
Absolutely the white hairs can and do go away. Sadie had dollar size (silver, not paper or Susn B's-- showing my age again) white spots on both sides of her back behind her withers. Over the course of a couple saddle changes both spots got smaller and one finally disappeared except for one or two hairs. The other one is looking like it might shrink some more in the spring when she sheds out.

My gelding also had a couple white spots though not as pronounced as Sadie's, and his are completely gone. He also has one slap in the middle of his backbone that seems to be permanent that's he's had since I got him that seems to be just a white spot on an otherwise very dark bay horse.

Beverley
Jan. 27, 2010, 12:48 PM
Each time I fixed the problem and the white hairs disappeared at the next shedding.

This has been my experience as well.

Nike13
Jan. 29, 2010, 10:51 AM
I guess I could try a saddle with full QH bars. I'm afraid his withers are too prominent for that though. He's really a narrow chested, high withered horse. He doesn't "look" like full QH bars, but I guess it's worth a try. I saw a pad by Clinton Anderson that I might give a try too. It has "special" padding/design right where my horse has problems. We'll see....

Daatje
Jan. 29, 2010, 03:39 PM
This has happened to my horse on two occassions with two different saddles.

Saddle #1: Ansur Treeless Dressage

Use - mainly trail riding during the winter months, 2x a week. In the spring and summer, dressage sessions 2-3x a week.

Issue - white hairs were discovered under the winter coat when horse was given a body clip in the spring.

Location - two quarter sized dots of white on each side of the horse congruent with the rivets attaching the billets to the saddle.

Fix - got rid of the Ansur treeless and purchased a Bates Innova. Much better for both of us.

Saddle #2: Henri de Rivel Showjumping Pro

Use - Foxhunting first field with the Wentworth Hunt once a week. Jumping sessions 2x a week when the weather and footing permit.

Issue - two months after hunting season ended, two 1 1/2 inch sized patches of hair FELL OUT on either side of my horses spine about 6 inches behind her withers. Upon further inspection, the hairs were white under the black hair in a four inch diameter around the patches that fell out.

Location - Upon putting the saddle on the horse, it was found that the STIRRUP BARS of the saddle coincided with the white hairs and bare patches. The saddle tree fit, adequate saddle pads were used, but the stirrup bars were putting pressure on her back right through the padding!

This must have been from the constant riding in the galloping position, when riding first field following closely after the hounds. This was the second season using this saddle. The first season, no issues were found, no white hairs caused. The first season we rode in the hilltop field and were mostly trotting, some cantering and no galloping. First field gallops much more frequently, changing the distrubution of the riders weight in the saddle.

The hair that fell out grew in black, so I believe when she sheds her winter coat, the surrounding hairs will also grow in black. Thank goodness.

Horse never ONCE complained about the pressure from the stirrup bars.:no:

Fix - Never use the HDR again. Purchased a Wintec Close Contact which fits well and has the stirrup bars buried well beneath the panels of the saddle. Use a 1" thick shearling lined diamond wool wither back pad under the Close Contact Saddle.

So, yes, the white hairs can and do shed out and come back in the original color.

And no, you'd think the horse would complain about the pressure, but that's not always the case!

Haf N Haf
Jan. 29, 2010, 04:02 PM
Thank goodness for this thread! I've been beating myself ever since some white patches came in with my gelding's winter coat. I was told they'd never go away. Every time I look at them I feel sad for what I did. :cry:

RedHorses
Jan. 31, 2010, 01:49 PM
My QH has developed white hairs from saddle pressure in as little as one ride. He also developed white hairs on the left side of his back and right side of his wither during a period where I was jumping gymnastics alone and was dismounting to change jumps frequently during each session - I'd then mount from the ground. I stopped doing so many gymnastics, started alternating sides to mount, and tried to find boosters so I wasn't mounting from the ground and sure enough the white hairs vanished at the next shedding without any change in saddle or pads.

I think the lack of pain response is because constant pressure creates a numbing effect so after a short period under saddle the horse isn't feeling it. And we as riders tend to write off initial equine antics as being "fresh" or "feeling his oats today" and work them to settle them down.

Nike13
Feb. 1, 2010, 01:00 AM
"He also developed white hairs on the left side of his back and right side of his wither during a period where I was jumping gymnastics alone and was dismounting to change jumps frequently during each session - I'd then mount from the ground. "

This is interesting. It would appear that white hairs can crop up due to something less than "constant" pressure. I wonder if some horse's hair coats are more sensitive/prone to color change, and it has less to do with actual pain? Condiering you see sore backed horses with no white hairs all the time. Just a thought.

jeano
Feb. 1, 2010, 11:33 AM
Sadie is so assymetrical that she will have a rough-looking patch of hair on one side and not the other--I dont think its (entirely) me because the gelding, who is much straighter and who ALSO had white patches previously, never ever ever has a hair out of place and I ride him, if anything, more than I do Sadie.

Neither one of my horses has ever acted the least bit uncomfortable, never cold backed, never reluctant to be caught, saddled, or ridden. And, oddly enough, Sadie seems to gait less with saddles that by all objective criteria, fit her better. So go figure.

I use a mounting block religiously, otherwise I wouldnt be able to get on!

wendy
Feb. 1, 2010, 11:49 AM
It would appear that white hairs can crop up due to something less than "constant" pressure. I wonder if some horse's hair coats are more sensitive/prone to color change, and it has less to do with actual pain?
oh yeah. Think about how some horses every boo-boo they get the hair that grows back over the scar is white, while other horses never seem to grow white hair over scars/healed cuts-scrapes or others only have white hair grow back over serious scarring.

RedHorses
Feb. 3, 2010, 12:08 AM
My guy was very sensitive. His wounds had chestnut hair regrow - with the exception of the cannon crud gone bad case. He also reacted rather strongly to bites from insects (and spiders?). :rolleyes:

It took me a little while to figure out the one sided white hairs. The one ride causing white hairs was a surprise to me, but I know it was just the one ride because the white patches were obviously from the western saddle that got used once for a friend's ride on him. I was using an english saddle or nothing at that time.


Then too there are the half crippled by bad saddle fit horses who never grow a white hair. :confused:

carp
Feb. 10, 2010, 06:14 PM
One of my horses was interesting in that his white spots returned in winter even when the saddle fit was good. He came to me with white spots in his summer coat from an ill-fitting western saddle. I rode him English all summer, and the white spots turned into smaller spots when he shed his summer hair and grew in the winter coat. The following spring they disappeared almost completely when he grew his summer coat. Just a few white hairs remained. The small white spots returned again that fall when he grew his new winter coat, same size and location as the previous winter. They didn't correspond to any pressure points under the English saddle; it just seemed like the winter coat was permanently damaged, while the summer coat wasn't. Different follicles in play perhaps? Dunno.

LovelyBay
Feb. 19, 2010, 11:14 PM
Can anyone give me a reccomendation for a western pad with shims or other feature to fill in "empty" spots behind my horse's shoulder/wither?

We went with an Arab tree saddle because even full QH bars weren't wide enough, and the saddle fits perfectly except a dry spot behind her shoulders and withers.
Thanks!

horselips
Feb. 20, 2010, 07:49 AM
I was taught that:

1. A saddle shouldn't be cinched too tightly (hard to avoid with mutton-withered horses).

2. After dismounting from a very long ride, do not immediately loosen girth; walk horse for 15 minutes, then gradually loosen it a little every 10 minutes or so.

The reason? When a saddle is tight on a back and coupled with a rider's weight the cells of the back are compressed - blood flow is restricted. If you hop off & immediately remove saddle, all the fluid rushes back into the cells, which can damage them, and cause the white hairs.