We all know that taking care of a horse is a big responsibility, and a big part of this responsibility is looking after their tack, making sure that it’s kept in a good clean condition.
Failure to do so could lead to nasty girth galls or saddle sores, which develop when dirty and ill-fitting tack pinches sensitive areas of the horse, causing them severe discomfort.
So how do you know when girth galls and saddle sores are forming? Sores are caused by a build-up of grease on the underside of a saddle, and while this usually occurs because the saddle is a poor fit, bear in mind that they can form even when using a well-fitting saddle.
When you remove your horse’s saddle, make sure to be on the lookout for any swelling or small lumps, as these could be the early signs of a gall forming.
If left untreated, these could turn into an open sore, which in addition to being very painful and difficult to treat for the horse, will mean that you’ll be unable to ride them for some time.
Bear in mind that horses which have high withers or particularly wide torsos or bodies could be more at risk of developing girth galls, as the tack is more likely to rub on the withers or elbows and cause a sore.
To treat both girth galls and saddle stores, you’ll first need to clean the affected area well and apply a protective ointment to prevent infection.
Once the sore has healed properly, you can harden the skin by applying a warm salt solution with a cloth, sponge or some cotton wool.
It could take up to three weeks to clear up, and until they have done so completely, you should refrain from using a girth or saddle as this will only make the condition worse, while still ensuring that they get the exercise which they require.
Of course, prevention is better than treatment, and there are a couple of ways in which you can go about doing this.
Firstly, you should always make sure to groom your horse before tacking up, making sure that there is no sweat or mud on their back or belly which could rub on the tack.
You should also be sure to take good care of the saddle itself, making sure that there’s no build-up of grease on its underside which could cause friction with the horse, and make sure that it gets fitted by a qualified saddler.
When it comes to a girth, this should also be kept clean, but you might also want to use a protective fleece to help cushion the skin from the girth.
You can read more about how to look after your tack in this blog post from HorseChannel.com.
Finally, when riding, be sure to regularly run your fingers under the girth to ensure that no skin is being pinched under it and causing a girth gall.
The key to preventing girth galls and saddles sores is to keep your tack clean, and your horse well groomed.
If you find that your horse is still developing them, you might want to consider seeing an equine veterinarian or having a new saddle or girth fitted, to see if that helps to alleviate the issue.
If you do require a new girth or saddle, you can browse our full range here at Ride-Away.