Our tack is finally in a decent place. In a workable place. My plan is still to jump into saddle shopping with both feet when my work life and income is in a more predictable state, but for now my saddle is working and gives even sweat patterns. This is helped by my other tack in combination, of course.
Right now I’m booting her all-around as the weather has made her feet fairly soft and she moves out more confidently in her boots. That ride was the first time I tried her out in her new pair of Easyboot Gloves that I put a pad in – something I’ve done so that we can trot on roads more comfortably and without serious strain on her legs. Her front feet fit in 1.5 wides normally, though they get annoyingly difficult to put on and take off in the last 3rd of her trim cycle. These are size 2 wides with a firm pad added. Plus powerstraps (I use powerstraps on all my Gloves). They stuck on well and she didn’t trip, so I was pleased. We are still trying to figure out what the best option is for her hind feet (which are more irregularly shaped and have that fetlock scar to contend with), but right now the Renegades I have for her at least stay on even if I am not super happy with the fit there.
As for other tack my parents got me the Thinline Sheepskin Endurance Pad I’d been coveting for my recent birthday, and Deli clearly LOVES it. Though I must say a little part of me dies when I take a clean fluffy sheepskin pad and within 3 rides it is disgusting from sweat and dirt. Her back is soft when I get off. For arena work I use a fleece-cotton square pad with a Thinline Contour pad on top.
|A shot from Deli's most recent trim.|
Using a crupper is also working out well to help with our long-running issue of the saddle being pulled forward due to Deli’s big laid back shoulder and forward hearth girth. Now we ride with a seriously loose girth and snug crupper and breast collar/plate and have had no issues with saddle slippage under saddle yet. I still can’t mount from the ground, but I have never been able to with this horse due to her meat-tube shape. Luckily she has become a pro at standing quietly while I use trees and rocks and ditches and random farm equipment to use as a mounting block.
I’ve also been using an elastic breast girth (as is used by eventers) instead of my Zilco breastplate for the simple reason that it stays above the area where her skin is upset from her allergies. It seems to work fine so far, and Deli seems to appreciate the elastic. I haven’t tested it yet on hardcore hill climbing but will soon.
As for an update on Deli’s allergies…
Deli’s skin issues due to hyper-sensitivity and insect allergies are an ongoing management head-scratcher. Riding does not make it worse, though I forgo riding when the tack touches any of her hotspot areas or when they are in places that stretch during normal movement (like her armpits – a typical spot for flare ups) because they clearly HURT. For the most part the flare ups are confined to her chest and between her front legs – which my vet thinks is because the spider bite several years ago that seems to have triggered her extreme histamine reaction was on her lower chest. It is really gross, in general. Her skin gets localized fevers in “hot spots” during the worst of it, making her skin peel off and the area especially sensitive. She will get scabby skin around bites or in hot spot areas. During bad flare-ups I have been giving her generic Zyrtec, which seems to help quiet the inflammation though I still wait for the peeling-gross skin areas to heal.
I’ve been experimenting with different supplements and have her on a Smartpak’s Bug-Off Ultra pellets, which I supplement with extra MSM during her flare-ups. She also gets lots of Omega 3s and other than her hot spot areas her skin and coat are shiny and healthy. Recently I added both chamomile and spirulena to her supplements as well, and one or both do seem to be helping as this past week her skin has been more dandruff-y than scabby and inflamed. When I lived in California both spirulena and chamomile were very helpful in easing some of the symptoms of her (mild) dust allergy as both have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. Living in Oregon now the dust allergy comes up less often. At worst she usually needs to cough a couple times when we start trotting and then will be fine for the rest of the ride.
For topical treatments I use several things. Hydrocortisone has clear results in calming the initial inflammation and so I’ve made up batches of my homemade healing goo (which includes essential oils in a coconut oil base) with human-grade hydrocortisone cream. I also have my goo without the hydrocortisone which I put in areas she often gets bitten – including working it into her tail hair on her dock as it also functions as a skin and hair moisturizer. This works very well as a protective layer too, I’ve found, as the oil sticks around for a couple days and soothes her raw skin (when a layer has peeled off). The essential oils I use (Melrose and Purification, for those curious) also have an added benefit of repelling insects.
If we ever do get to an endurance ride it’s likely I will make up some of my homemade goo without any AERC banned ingredients in it to put as a proactive protective layer before competition. My other favorite product is Healing Tree T-Zon Equine Healing Cream, which also provides Deli a lot of relief. I also use Eqyss Micro-Tek products and usually bathe her problem areas with some kind of gentle medicated shampoo (like Micro-Tek’s) at least every other week and then moisturize her skin and coat afterward.
Last but not least I rub her dry with clean towels and often use Dermacloth to clean sweaty areas after a ride to prevent any skin irritation that may occur from residual sweat and dirt. I also use these to clean around her eyes and the sweaty marks left by her bridle, as her eyes often get irritation from dust and insects as well.
My vet has confirmed that red-headed horses (like red-headed humans) do seem to have more issues with sensitivity in the skin. I think Deli has had allergies in some form as long as I have had her (the first thing I noticed was she would get white flaky skin when fed corn). The dust allergies seemed to be caused by an unfortunate illness she had when I first got her - the one where she was forced into quarantine against my will in a dark dusty stall. "Against my will" meaning I was trying to find an open solo pasture for her to be in quarantine given she had never been stalled and was still new to being handled regularly. I wasn't allowed to remove her and we were both traumatized by the experience for various reasons.
The insect issues are tied to that spider bite on her chest which was very nasty and made her skin get infected, requiring antibiotics.
That's not even half of what we've gone through, but as it relates to allergies that's about it. That, and she gets welts from many fly sprays...
Special special red mare.