What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Dry Spots under Wet Saddle Blanket


When you remove a saddle from a horse that has been heavily exercised, the hair coat covered by the pad should be evenly soaked with sweat.

Dry spots or an uneven sweat pattern under the saddle pad can indicate problems with saddle fit, and should prompt you to check the fit of your saddle and consider that your horse may be experiencing discomfort and potential injury.

  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If your vet will assess the fit of your saddle.
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your role


What To Do

Consider whether the horse has shown signs of discomfort under saddle or resistance to training. Press on the dry areas, assessing whether the horse shows a pain response. Once the hair has dried, feel for heat in the area. Are dry spots present on both sides of the back? Are they symmetric left to right? Do you notice areas of swelling or hair loss? Are there white hairs appearing on the back?

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to compensate for poor saddle fit by the use of extra padding and shims. Improperly used, they may worsen the problem.

your vet's role

Share your findings and concerns with your vet. Some vets are also expert saddle fitters. Either way, they may recommend particular fixes, different tack, additional diagnostics or assessment of saddle-fit by an expert.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the horse seem to be sore backed?
  • Is the horse performing to your expectation under saddle?
  • Have you noticed any behavioral changes under saddle?
  • Has the saddle or pad changed?
  • Does the horse resent saddling?
  • Have you noticed the horse seeming uncomfortable under saddle?
  • Do you notice pain to pressure applied to muscles along the back?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?
  • Have you noticed areas of white hair in the area under the saddle?
  • Have you examined the horse's back and girth and checked saddle fit?

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP