Shoulder rubs are uncomfortable for your horse, not to mention unsightly. They occur when a horse blanket rubs against your horse's shoulder when he moves while wearing it. If your horse develops one, take action immediately to correct the problem and alleviate your horse's discomfort.
Cause of Shoulder Rubs
Most shoulder rubs that occur on horses who regularly wear sheets and blankets are caused by the sheet or blanket. A badly fitting horse blanket, a too heavy horse blanket or even an underlying health problem or skin condition can cause the rub. Before you go out and purchase a new horse blanket, have your veterinarian check your horse for skin conditions.
A blanket that's too heavy and making your horse sweat can easily be to blame for any shoulder rubs that develop. Make sure your horse's blanket is an adequate weight to keep your horse comfortable in your area's climate. If you are unsure whether you are using the right weight of blanket, check with the blanket's manufacturer to see what temperature range is recommended for the item. If you regularly reach under your horse's blanket to find him sweating, his blanket is too heavy for him regardless of what the recommended weight is, and you need to purchase a blanket that is not quite so heavy.
A properly fitting blanket is far less likely to cause blanket rubs than one that fits incorrectly or even pretty well. Make sure your horse blanket fits your horse snugly but not restrictively through the neck, chest and shoulder areas. It should not gap, slip or rub. Your horse's movements should not be restricted, and his shoulders should move freely when he walks. If your blanket is visibly rubbing or gaping, too tight or too loose, or otherwise fails to fit properly, you will need to purchase a new blanket to eliminate the shoulder rub condition.
Preventing Shoulder Rubs
A well-fitting blanket, especially one with a nylon liner that features shoulder gussets, will go a long way toward preventing shoulder rubs from developing or worsening. If your horse is especially prone to shoulder rubs, a close-fitting nylon undergarment, such as those used to keep show horse coats sleek and their manes on the right side of their necks, can prevent rubbing when layered underneath the blanket.
Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.