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Help diagnosing cause of itchiness under saddle

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  • Help diagnosing cause of itchiness under saddle

    You know the question. Here are the clues:

    1. 9 year old mare, never had this problem before

    2. Extreme itchiness on back in saddle area causes problematic behavior (tail lashing, lack of focus, uneven gaits, head tossing, bucking) if ridden.

    3. Behavior problems perisit even when ridden bareback, particularly if the horse gets sweaty.

    4. Have given horse several weeks off, had chiro eval, definitely seems to be a problem of itchiness instead of pain.

    5. Horse is mostly shed out after winter, particularly in the affected area.

    6. Hair appears slightly thin in itchy areas. Use of a shedding blade appears very pleasurable to horse and pulls up little hair but a fair amount of dirty, oily matter that appears to be a combination of dirt and skin. No bleeding, sores, or naked spots result. No apparent mites. The skin appears normal on other parts of the body when groomed in the same manner.

    7. Unable to detect any lesions, swelling, bumps, bites, etc. by sight or touch. Just itchiness and thinned hair -- not so thin that you'd notice without looking carefully.

    8. Dry climate, lots of sun, horse lives outdoors and has access to shelter and quality feed. Body condition is excellent. Deworming up to date. Appears completely healthy.

    9. Horse does not appear to be driven crazy by itchiness while at liberty. She's rolling a lot (but so is the rest of the herd, it's shedding season) but seems relaxed and isn't trying to bite at the area or rub it on posts. However, horse obviously wants back scratched by humans whenever the favor is offered.

    I started 50:50 Listerine and water on it yesterday, will give anti-fungal shampoo bath tonight.

    Anybody have an idea what could be causing this? The lack of lesions leads me away from ringworm; the dry conditions and lack of lesions don't suggest rain rot; the lack of hives makes me question allergies. I've tried different saddle pads and, as I said, bareback. No recent feed changes...no exposure to new horses...

    Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

  • #2
    Ulcers? Some horses react by biting at their sides (which looks like theyre itching). That would also explain the negative behavior under saddle.
    Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
    White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

    Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by AliCat518 View Post
      Ulcers? Some horses react by biting at their sides (which looks like theyre itching). That would also explain the negative behavior under saddle.
      Good suggestion, but I'm fairly certain that's not it, as the skin is definitely VERY, VERY itchy. (Stretchy lip with scratched, leaning into brush, etc.)

      She's not doing any side-biting or exhibiting other ulcer symptoms...and believe me, I've been down that road!
      Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

      Comment


      • #4
        I'd stay away from anything as harsh as Listerine, esp since you don't know what is going on. I mean, it could work, but it could also make things a lot worse. The Eqyss Microtek products are great; I've also had good results with the Malaseb shampoo (which I got from a small-animal vet).
        "Winter's a good time to stay in and cuddle,
        but put me in summer and I'll be a... happy snowman!!!"

        Trolls be trollin'! -DH

        Comment


        • #5
          Any changes of soap in washing saddle pads, breeches/pants? Do you double rinse every load of horse laundry in plain water? I know the front loaders are using much less water, so they don't get soap and dirt rinsed out as well as top loaders. Some people and animals are just VERY sensitive to soaps left in fabrics. Especially when they wear them and get sweaty. Skin may break out in hives or create other issues.

          A total bath sounds good, though I would probably use a plain shampoo, not medicated, use warm water to get her cleaner.

          Maybe rinse her back after riding with plain water. I always thought Listerine was fairly mild, even more so when watered down to half strength. Still leaves a residue on her skin when finished.

          However any body area covered (like saddled) and then getting warm skin, sweaty, could have issues created. Do you have different FABRICS in your saddle pads? Maybe thicker, fuzzy over smooth fabrics. And I would stick to rinses with plain water after riding her, gets the salt off her hair and skin.

          Last is about her heat cycles. Spring cycle is usually MUCH stronger, might be adding a bit of soreness to her back when ovulating. Just another idea to add to your collection, though not so skin oriented.

          Comment


          • #6
            [QUOTE=goodhors;6252589]Any changes of soap in washing saddle pads, breeches/pants? Do you double rinse every load of horse laundry in plain water? I know the front loaders are using much less water, so they don't get soap and dirt rinsed out as well as top loaders. Some people and animals are just VERY sensitive to soaps left in fabrics. Especially when they wear them and get sweaty. Skin may break out in hives or create other issues.]

            ^^This. Are you washing your saddle pads regularly? One of my horses needs hers washed after every single ride. And you may need to try a hypoallergenic detergent.
            New Blessing Farm
            Standing the Oldenburg stallion Legaczy
            www.newblessingfarm.com
            "The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground".

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              More good thoughts, thanks guys.

              I did try different pad fabrics, and should note that the issue started while using the exact same pads in which she's been ridden thousands of miles. (Literally. She's an endurance horse.)

              I'm pretty sure detergent isn't the issue, as the original pad (from when this started) had been on several rides since being washed (never been a problem for her). Nor do I think it was a dirty-pad issue, as it wasn't all that dirty, I tried clean ones, and the issue remained when riding bareback. I tried different types of pants, even.

              Finally, the itchiness remains even after several weeks with no exposure to pads, and 5+ days have passed between exposure to pant fabrics.

              Cycles, ah yes, that's another thing I considered. She does get more sensitive in spring, for sure. But, that wouldn't explain the localized itching and oily skin residue/hair loss.

              Keep thinking!
              Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

              Comment


              • #8
                I dont know why I didnt mention this the first time, but when my horse had similar itchiness, I tried all the detergents, leather girths, sheepskins, different pads etc. The thing that helped the most is a mohair girth.

                Super cheap if you just wanna try! My horse also did it bareback, but I think its that he was still itchy/sore from being ridden, and my leg was on the sensitive area when riding.
                Charlie Brown (1994 bay TB X gelding)
                White Star (2004 grey TB gelding)

                Mystical Moment, 1977-2010.

                Comment


                • #9
                  This subject interests me too because my TB gelding sometimes will turn around and want to bite the area just in front of the girth like it itches ? He is a sensitive skinned chestnut, so I am very careful to keep everything clean, but this seems to bother him only occasionally and I haven't figured out a pattern.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Update: 5 days of Listerine treatment, following a Selson Blue scrub, seems to have done the trick. She's much happier now.
                    Training and campaigning Barb endurance horses at The Barb Wire.

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