We have all seen the dreaded dry spot on a horse at one time or another. Some folks pay little attention to them and some folks loose their minds when they find one. As with most things in life we have to approach the situation with a calm open mind.
Though most of the time it is not the end of the world, it is something that we should watch and try to fix. A dry spot is caused by increased pressure in that area and this prevents sweating in the area. This increased pressure can cause soreness and sometimes cause the hair to turn white.
A true dry spot is found after a long period of riding that causes the horse to be completely covered in sweat. Usually this takes three to six hours to be able to diagnose a true dry spot. Once sweaty the saddle and blanket should be remove without cooling the horse down too much. A horses back will dry from front to back during long cool down periods due to the movement of the shoulder blade allowing more airflow than the rear of the saddle.
The main thing I’m concerned with on dry spots is the size. If they are as big as your hand they are less of a problem than if they were the size of your cell phone. The smaller the dry spot the less surface area is being affected and this has more of a chance of leading to trauma. The bigger the surface area means that the “pounds per square inch” is lower and has less chance of causing soreness or injury. All dry spots should be monitored and adjustments made to see if you can keep them from happening, but sometimes they will show up because you really haven’t ridden the horse long enough and that area just hasn’t had time to sweat completely yet.
If a dry spot is present at this time then there is an issue that needs to be addressed. At this point palpate the area to check for soreness. Some horses are tougher than others and this may be hard to see. If soreness is present then a solution needs to be found quickly to prevent injury. If there is no soreness then there may be small changes that can be made to fix the problem.
In either case, one should keep an eye on the issue and consult a saddle maker if the spot shows up after every ride.
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