SAD­DLE FIT

EQUUS - - Eq Handson -

cov­er­ing the growths with sooth­ing cream, such as zinc ox­ide, may re­duce dis­com­fort. Your vet­eri­nar­ian may rec­om­mend us­ing the top­i­cal im­munemod­u­lat­ing med­i­ca­tion im­iquimod, but this treat­ment pro­to­col is la­bor­in­ten­sive and ex­pen­sive, so it’s typ­i­cally re­served for ex­treme cases.

The no­tion that you can use sweat marks to eval­u­ate sad­dle fit may sound like an old wives’ tale, but it’s not. Sweat pat­terns can in­di­cate poor sad­dle fit long be­fore rubs or sore­ness oc­curs.

Af­ter you pull a sad­dle off your horse, in­spect the sweat marks on his back and the sad­dle pad. You want to see sym­me­try---mir­ror im­ages along both pan­els of an English sad­dle and the bars of a Western one. A lone dry patch might in­di­cate “bridg­ing”---a place where the sad­dle doesn’t come in con­tact with the back---mean­ing other ar­eas are sub­ject to in­creased pres­sure.

If a sad­dle fits well, there will be no sweat along the horse’s spine be­cause air cir­cu­lates freely in that space. No prop­erly fit­ted sad­dle of any type rests on a horse’s ver­te­brae. The sad­dle pad will also have a clean, dry line down the cen­ter. (Of course, in hot, hu­mid weather, the en­tire pad and your horse’s

back may be soaked with sweat due to slow evap­o­ra­tion, so in­ter­pret what you see ac­cord­ingly.)

Even if you’ve used the same sad­dle on your horse for years, it’s wise to reg­u­larly take note of these sweat pat­terns. Changes in fit­ness and sound­ness can af­fect sad­dle fit, and lop­sided sweat marks may be the first sign that an ad­just­ment or re­place­ment is needed. If you sus­pect a prob­lem, talk to your vet­eri­nar­ian or a sad­dle fit­ter.

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