If your horse routinely wears a fly sheet, stable sheet, or blanket, you may be familiar with unsightly blanket rubs. When the blanket leaves rubs on your horse, it can be more than a cosmetic issue; blanket rubs can be painful to the touch and may cause muscle stiffness. Keep reading to learn how to battle blanket rubs.
What Are Blanket Rubs?
Simply put, blanket rubs are patches of bare skin or short fur that is caused from the friction of the blanket rubbing against your horses coat. Severe blanket rubs may even result in open wounds or oozing sores. They are typically found on the point of your horse’s shoulder and along the edges of the blanket (such as the withers or chest). However, blanket rubs can occur anywhere your horse comes in contact with their blanket.
Often, a poorly fitting blanket is the culprit when it comes to blanket rubs, although some horses with sensitive skin are extremely prone to rubs and may require additional assistance to prevent rubs from occurring.
The Right Fit
The best way to treat blanket rubs is to prevent them from happening in the first place. The best safeguard against blanket rubs is a well-fitting blanket. Look for a blanket that fits your horse well, particularly in the chest and shoulders. A blanket that is too small will pinch the shoulders while a blanket that is too large will slide back behind the wither and put excess pressure on the chest.
Different blanket brands and cuts fit differently, so it is imperative that you evaluate the fit of each blanket you try on your horse, regardless if it is the proper size. Learn more about selecting the appropriate blanket size for your horse on our blog post, Understanding Horse Blankets. Certain cuts, such as Quarter Horse cut blankets, may be wider through the shoulders to accommodate stock horse breeds.
Prior to each new blanketing season, assess the fit of your horse or pony’s blanket or sheet. Taking a few minutes to evaluate your horse’s blanketing regime is the first step in assuring that your horse stays free of blanket rubs and chaffing.
A Slippery Slope
For many blanket rubs, excess friction or pressure is the root cause. Some blankets are even equipped with an interior nylon layer to prevent friction. An easy way to eliminate friction and help your blanket glide over your horse’s coat is to spray your horse’s coat liberally with a coat conditioning product. Coat Shine and Polish products keep your horse’s coat slick and sleek, which allows the blanket to move easily over the hair. These conditioning products also promote healthy skin and fur, which is another layer of defense!
As an added benefit, many equine coat conditioners also prevent static cling which can cause potentially painful static zaps when you remove your horse’s blanket. One of our employees has had wonderful results with a coat conditioning fly spray; learn about her experience by reading her review, Equiderma Neem & Aloe Fly Spray for Static Control.
If your horse is prone to chest and shoulder rubs, a shoulder guard provides a buffer against rubs and chaffing. These thin lycra guards cling to your horse’s shoulders to protect the shoulder and chest of your horse without compromising blanket fit. The snug fit and smooth fabric results in your horse’s blanket moving smoothly over your horse’s chest as another line of protection against friction.
As soon as you begin to notice blanket rubs on your horse, it is time to act. The faster you take action, the more quickly they will heal and the less damage they will cause. Immediately assess the fit of the blanket; a blanket that fits well in the beginning of the winter may not fit as well if your horse gains weight or loses muscle during the course of the season.
The rubs give you clues as to where the friction is occurring. If the rubs are underneath the chest buckles, consider a closed front blanket or a blanket with an alternative closure system. Blanket bibs, such as the Equifit Blanket Bib, help to relieve the pressure from the buckles on your horse’s chest, as well as prevent the blanket buckles from pinching. If your horse is experiencing wither rubs, look for a high neck blanket that extends up your horses neck.
In addition to addressing the location of the rubbing and potentially changing your horse’s blanketing routine, you need to treat the area to promote hair growth and skin health. We suggest using a gentle antiseptic solution that can soothe your horse’s skin, such as EQyss Micro-Tek Spray, which encourages healing of blanket rubs and stimulates hair growth. It is recommended that you also equip your horse with a shoulder guard so that your horse is protected against new rubs as you treat the existing rubs.
Every horse is an individual, and there are a myriad of reasons that they may be experiencing blanket rubs. Our experienced sales staff is always available to help you troubleshoot your horse’s blanket rubs and prevent them from happening in the future. If you have a unique way to combat blanket rubs, we would love to hear about it! Leave your blanketing tips in the comments below.