My last article was about the effects of saddle fit on our horse’s backs. After a wonderful summer the weather has suddenly turned colder and by the time you read this article many of us will be rugging our horses.
Over the past few winters, I have seen many horses suffer musculo-skeletal soreness corresponding to incorrectly fitting rugs. During the cold months horses often wear the same rug every day for several months – some horses wear the same rug day and night. Often in an attempt to keep our horses warm, we put several layers on. Layering is great in theory, but do check the weight – some combinations are really heavy and the horse has to stand with this weight for long periods of time.
If a rug is too tight and pressing on the withers it can cause rub or pressure sores and sensitivity around the withers and shoulders. If it is too big around the chest so it slips back (B diagram below) it will cause pressure on withers, as well as restricting shoulder and forelimb movement causing soreness in the back, neck, shoulder and chest muscles. Remember also that the horse needs to put his head down to eat, so check the pressure on the withers both standing normally and when his head is down.
Ensure the leg straps are fitted correctly – too loose he may get tangled or caught, but too tight can make him uncomfortable causing him to move awkwardly which can affect the muscles right up the hind limbs into the bottom and back muscles.
It is imperative to check your horse’s rug and his back daily for any signs of rubbing or soreness. Notice if he starts to get cross when you come near him with a rug and notice any sensitivity or twitching especially around the withers, shoulder and chest areas when you groom or touch him.
Remember just as the saddle rests on a combination of muscles and bones, so does a rug, albeit to a lesser degree. Once a horse gets sore and has restricted movement he will find it very difficult to work or perform well for you when you ride him. To get an idea of how a horse may feel wearing an incorrectly fitting rug every day, try yourself, wearing a coat over the top of a couple of sweat shirts so it feels tight and restrictive. Some of you will just feel uncomfortable, some of you will move awkwardly and stiffly and some of you may even feel soreness and muscle tension, maybe even giving you a head ache. Your horse may be like this every day – remember an incorrectly fitting rug can affect the long term soundness of your horse.
If you think you have a problem and would like help or advice call Susan and book an appointment. Susan will check and treat your horse and in addition give a FREE rug check.
Poor performance and behavioural issues are often due to crookedness, pain and the inability to move freely. Making sure your horse is treated regularly and has correctly fitting comfortable equipment can reap huge rewards for both horse and rider.
Susan Sargeant – registered Chiropractor qualified to treat humans and animals for more than 14 years. She also holds qualifications in Equine, Canine and Human massage. The combination of these techniques together with her knowledge of biomechanics and rehabilitation offers a unique and in depth treatment for you, your horse or dog.
Ask for a FREE Rug Check when you have your horse treated.
For further information, free spinal checks or appointments please call yourchiropractor.co.uk
07957 509594 or 0208 405 1268