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Life and times with an overly sensitive, thin skinned, PITA horse

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  • Life and times with an overly sensitive, thin skinned, PITA horse

    This post doesn't really have a point, except to maybe vent a bit, entertain, and possibly commiserate with my fellow thin skinned horse owners.

    It is no secret that Toby is just plain ass sensitive. Thanks to daily Zyrtec, we seem to have the hives caused by all sorts of stupid things under control (touch wood). But that does not eliminate the constant fight with epic dry skin, rubs, and general particularness.

    Most of his "issues" are well documented:
    - I really just cannot bathe him at all. I lucked out the other day when I seriously diluted Keratolux when he came in FILTHY, but even Ivory can cause issues, and don't even talk to me about what I did with him when I tried baby shampoo.
    - I basically can't use ANYTHING on him because it dries his skin out. We don't do liniment and I have to use the mostly pointless marigold "fly" spray on him.
    - I can't use my fancy ergonomic girth on him (or any other leather girth, for that matter) because it rubs him raw. Only soft, squishy fleece girths.
    - He's allergic to neoprene, some it's fleecy boots, polos, and expensive fancy boots like Equifits, NEW, etc, etc, etc.
    -He's RIDICULOUSLY particular about how his rugs and sheets sit on him. I have to be careful how I do up the chests and what layers I use, because if they put the wrong kind of pressure on him he acts like he is bilaterally lame in the front.
    - We think he may be too sensitive for the fancy magnetic blanket I've used on him a couple of times...last time he wore it he acted like he was crawling with spiders during and after, even on the lowest settings. This even managed to shock his unshockable vet.

    Today, though, may have been the winner, though I'm holding off on whether what I think may have happened is true. I rode him this morning and he just didn't feel right. He walked out quite gingerly, and just felt "funny" when I trotted across the xc field. I circled back to the barn and had my friend and occasional instructor watch him trot around in the ring. We both agreed he wasn't right, but neither one of us could put our finger on it.

    So, I took him in, and investigated...hoof testers, checked legs, checked back. I admittedly am very bad when it comes to Toby when I think he's not right but there is nothing OBVIOUS (when he did his tendon that was easy...a fat, hot, painful leg is a good indicator of what's wrong!). I texted back and forth with my vet, but because there was nothing obviously wrong and I couldn't tell what was up, I didn't want him to rush out and have to charge me an emergency visit. We agreed I would ride him tomorrow and see what I felt.

    Well.....tonight, I was getting him ready to turnout and noticed welts on both sides, obviously from the edge of his saddle pad (keep in mind I only rode him at the walk and trot for MAYBE 20 minutes...if that). A saddle pad I haven't used in ages (because it is garish. But all his normal pads were either filthy or wet...because I can't wash his things in the general barn laundry because he can't use that detergent ). There is nothing that different about THIS pad. But, his stupid skin obviously found it offensive. I texted the vet, half joking that maybe THAT was why he was uncomfortable. He said he wouldn't be surprised.

    We'll see how he is tomorrow (with one of his NORMAL pads). Honestly, if this is the case, I'll be both relieved, but may have a breakdown. REALLY??? A pad, Toby?

  • #2
    i won a bottle of super-hypo-allergenic dog shampoo today in a raffle--want me to send it you you?

    I think your horses would dissolve under my care. I just would not be able to handle it!
    Click here before you buy.


    • #3
      Oh no! Poor YB!

      Your horse makes my sheepskin swaddled, fuzzy bell booted, only can eat certain kinds of hay chestnut look positively hardy !

      Seriously, lots of empathy here

      I was feeling like my horse's super hero name should be "UBER WUSS" b/c his leg stocked up due to skin crud on his cannon.

      I have never been as completely anal/ ocd as I am now with my chestnut with any other horse. Mr. Sensitive Princess had to have a soft padded mono crown bridle because he gets TMJ. I had to slather cribox over his entire paddock fence because the cribbing collar gives him TMJ.

      He wears two different kinds of pads on his front shoes, shoes that he get redone every 4 weeks. Thank god my blacksmith has a sense of humor.

      He gets hives. His legs swell if he eats the wrong hay. He gets rubs. He overreaches(interferes?) occasionally so has to wear tendon guard boots for hacking. He got a custom saddle.

      The list goes on. I feel your pain We should get saddle pads "PITATB"
      Unrepentant carb eater


      • Original Poster

        Unfortunately, I am a total pro at this whole uber-sensitive horse thing now. Although, after 18 months or so with Toby (especially after this past winter and early spring), Vernon was a walk in the park! Don't feed him anything with beet pulp and keep him sparkly clean (he, unlike Toby, did better with LOTS of baths!).

        Did I mention Toby is allergic to sweat?

        He is a monstrous PITATB (love it...funnily enough, he was wearing the OTTB pad I have that I NEVER use because it is painfully bright red), but is worth every second of it. Honestly, the most talented, athletic horse I have ever been allowed to throw my leg over. When he puts his powers to good instead of evil, he is fantastic. So, I roll with the punches his skin throws at me.

        God bless a long suffering vet with a good sense of humor and an inquiring mind, too.


        • Original Poster

          Oh, and dw, does that fancy-schmancy hypo-allergenic shampoo have oatmeal in it? Cuz he's allergic to that, too.


          • #6
            And to think that your horse's ancestors lived out in the wild! I'm glad he's talented, but oh, what a massive PITA he must be to take care of. Is there anything he's NOT allergic to?


            • Original Poster

              He has no food allergies, unlike my last horse (who had a raging allergy to beet pulp. Know how hard it is to feed a hard working, slightly hard keeping prelim horse when you can't feed them a beet pulp based feed???).

              Honestly, you get used to it. Things just become second nature. And, like I said, he's my second one (and I groomed a very sensitive Irish red head for many years, so this isn't my first rodeo). You just do what you need to do. Sometimes you have to learn things by trial and error (ie, we'll NEVER do the procedure he had done this winter again, as it caused massive issues for several months), but, really, you just do what you gotta do. They can't all be tough, hardy critters. He's a long ways away from his ancestors.


              • Original Poster

                PS- he has been a very sound little horse so far...I'll take skin issues ALL. DAY. LONG. compared to some of the soundness issues I see people dealing with and that I am dealing with in horses in my care. *knocking wood like crazy*


                • #9
                  I'll check the label. I think it was primarily saponified olive oil. The Italian in approves heartily.
                  Click here before you buy.


                  • #10
                    Do you think doing acupuncture might help with the skin issue? Skin is an organ, after all....just grasping at straws, I am sure you've thought of everything....I am just thinking about working from within to create more resilience and less sensitivity in the skin.
                    I've got a sensitive one too but with a bit different issue. I found over three summers now that the best way to treat little cuts is with NOTHING except water and now they heal without proud flesh....took three years to figure that out....
                    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
                    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


                    • Original Poster

                      It would be interesting to try the acupuncture, but, really, I usually have a pretty firm grasp on it. So, it would be hard to tell if it helped. And, I just don't know how much more "stuff" I can add into my budget. He gets a monthly massage, a couple of feed through things to help with the skin, plus lessons and entries (not to mention basic vet and farrier care)...I don't know what I could cut out of MY needs to afford acupuncture


                      • #12
                        And I thought it was bad when I woke up in the middle of the night to a rhythmic *thump*...*thump*...*thump* as my horse hurled himself against the wall because he had ant bites which he decided meant he was under attack.

                        I have multiple saddle pads in which I can't ride because his skin has decided they're irritating, had to get rid of a pair of tall boots, my trainer can't ride in a specific pair of paddock boots... I bought a fly mask which had the extension which comes down over the nose a bit and had to remove that because it had a seam which rubbed. There have been times he was bitten by something which meant I couldn't bridle him, other times I couldn't saddle him because of bites on his back, and I have to make sure the flash is perfectly aligned or it rubs.

                        My horse is the most athletic, talented, amazing horse I've ever ridden, too. So it's totally worth it...
                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                        • #13
                          We have had good luck with farnam tricare for sensitive dry skin on faces, girth, withers, legs. Probably not that useful for whole body
                          OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                          • Original Poster

                            He actually likes Tricare! I usually use Sore No More Sport Salve (I won a big tub of it a couple of years ago) on rubs and and gross spots. Love that stuff.


                            • #15
                              Have you tried shampoo w/ Aloe vera or even making your own?

                              If he is allergic to his sweat its the salt n whatever he is wasting in sweat that irritates his skin since its his own is it auto immune??.

                              Does lining his rugs w/ silky satiny stuff help w/ the chaffing?

                              Just curious, like a puzzle, we went thru w/ our daughters severe asthma trigger.....we had to sell our little cottage because she was allergic to the pollen from the cedar trees that lined a shared driveway.....every time we walked into out totaly hypo-allergenic house she became viloently ill and was rushed back to hospital. Finally they did enough allergy test to figure it out...

                              I wonder what his trigger is????


                              • #16
                                Wow, all I have to say is he is LUCKY to have an owner like you.

                                My goodness....talk about high-maintainance! You are an angel to be so willing to accomodate all of his sensitivities and care for him so well!

                                Makes me appreciate my hardy Morgan with no issues I don't think I could own anything high-maintainance at this particular stage in my life.

                                Kudos to you!

                                As far as pads - have you tried a nice sheepskin numnah? The kind where the sheepskin goes DIRECTLY on the horse? It's what I use for all of mine. LOVE them and so comfy for the horse.
                                Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
                                **Morgans Do It All**


                                • Original Poster

                                  JBRP- The sweat thing is probably the protein in it. His rugs don't typically rub, they just can't pull on him in a funny way. I do them up a little bit loose and I try not to leave him overnight in something that will stretch (like his Back on Track or an antisweat).

                                  Fancy, I prefer using sheepskin to his skin, but we're using a different jump saddle that is narrower (and a better fit!) than what I have used until recently. Because it is narrower, a sheepskin anything is too thick, and therefore too tight. We've been doing ok with just a square pad plus a Thinline...but not THIS one apparently!


                                  • #18
                                    WOW, kudos to you. I dont think I could deal with that!

                                    It does make me think though...My gelding bites as my feet/his sides when i'm riding. I had him scoped (nothing there), changed girths, saddles, pads, laundry detergent, looked for bites/irritation, clipped him to check even better, etc etc etc, and he STILL does it. He also violently reaches back to scratch a certain spot on both sides immediately as I take the saddle off. I wonder if there's something else I could try....
                                    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                                    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                                    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Sounds weird, but have done any neurological tests on him?

                                      One of our horses does similar things....he has a history of EPM and just had a positive titre again. May be worth investigating that route.


                                      • #20
                                        Oh my! I thought my chestnut OTTB was sensitive... Good on you for going to so many pains to make sure he's comfortable!

                                        And this is tangential, but if you don't like that red OTTB pad (assuming it's from OTTB Designs?) I can point you in the direction of a few people who would love to have it!