Saddle Sores: Causes & Solutions

When I bought Coco she had a pretty nasty saddle sore on the top of her withers. It wasn’t huge but it was quite raw and would bleed after she was ridden. Once I bought her I decided I would give the sore a chance to heal by not riding her too much thinking the most she’d need would be about two weeks..unfortunately this was not the case. Anxious to get working with my new youngster, I took to the internet and spoke to friends at my yard to see what I could do to help move things along.

2017-08-14 22_38_49
I did a lot of lunging work with Coco when I first got her as I didn’t want to ride her while she had her saddle sore.

Before I get into solutions, it’s worth knowing what can cause saddle sores so you can do your best to avoid them altogether. The main cause of a saddle sore is a poorly fitted saddle. A saddle that doesn’t fit your horse properly can distribute pressure unevenly across your horses back, creating friction which causes hair loss and bald patches which can become raw. 

Did you know: When a saddle sore eventually heals, the hair will generally grow back white.

So what can you do to help your horse’s saddle sore heal up? Well I tried absolutely everything so one of these solutions is bound to work for you:

Let the air at it

The best thing for a saddle sore is to let it dry out. This will allow the wound to heal and the skin to harden and thicken up. Eventually the hair will begin to grow back.

Manuka Honey manuka honey

Unfortunately, I bought Coco just as it was time to start rugging up for the winter so I wasn’t having any luck letting the sore air out. Instead I had to turn to treatments. The first I tried was Manuka Honey. This is what her previous owner was using on the sore. I applied this to the sore once a day for a week. I saw progress but it was slow so I decided to try something else.



Sudocrem-Antiseptic-Healing-Cream-125g-44131Tried and tested by both mums of horses and humans around the world, Sudocream is the go-to treatment for all types of sores. What’s particularly good about sudocream is that it can help dry out the wound quite well while also helping to relieve the pain. Downisde, it needs to be applied regularly so if you can’t get up to your horse every day it may not be as effective.


Wound Powders-l225

This was particularly good for applying under the rug. The creams tend to rub off whereas the black powder sticks and acts as a hardening barrier which helps the sore to close and heal. 


 61tXaBD9vFL._SL1000_Mother Bee Sooth & Protect

I had heard about Mother Bee through a number of different sources so I decided to pick it up and give it a go. Well it didn’t disappoint. It was quick acting



No Riding

You can put as many different creams and ointments on a saddle sore as you want but most of the time the only thing that’s going to heal it up properly is time. Give it a chance to heal and don’t ride for a few weeks.

Tip: If you absolutely must ride don’t be tempted to double up on padding, this will just create more friction. Your best option is to cut a hole in an old numnah where the saddle sits on the sore. This didn’t work in Coco’s case but I have heard of it working for others.

Thankfully, since Coco’s sore healed up I haven’t had any more issues with saddle sores but it’s always good to have a solution on hand if ever the problem arises again.

Do you have a go-to treatment for saddle sores? Let me know in the comments. Always good to have more solutions!


14 thoughts on “Saddle Sores: Causes & Solutions

  1. This was a really interesting read! I actually never experienced this with my horses, maybe because they don’t have too big withers I guess. But I’m happy I know this now! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeh I’d never really had experience with them myself before Coco. You’d wonder how people can let it get to such a bad point but unfortunately it does happen so it’s always good to know how to treat it!


  2. So glad that Coco’s saddle sore healed up. Delight has a sore on his withers from years ago, and his hair is white there. But he is a TB and very high-withered. Because he is still growing I’m always checking saddle fit. I would like to add, there is a product I make and sell that uses organic beeswax and a number of essential oils that helps open wounds. I don’t want to get caught in spam so I won’t include the link, but it is the Healing Salve in my shop.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes I’m having similar issues with Coco! She’s still so young so I’m having such problems finding a saddle that fits her properly..thankfully there’s been no sign of the sore coming back but Im definitely keep an eye on it! Oh brilliant..Ill definitely check it out! Thanks for the heads up 🙂


  4. Saddle sores aren’t something I have encountered before, I haven’t even seen one on another persons horse, but I guess they are reasonably common?
    I use an equine product similar to sudocream called Potties White ointment as I was ripping through the little tubs of sudocream at one stage when greasy heel got out of control. It really is incredible stuff!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. From what I’ve seen through research, I would classify saddle sores as symptoms of neglect. I can’t imagine how anyone could allow a sore to get so bad to the point that its basically a hole in their horses back. Before Coco I hadn’t really seen them much and thankfully Coco’s wasn’t as bad as it could have escalated to but it’s definitely something worth being aware of!


    1. Pressed send before I’d finished reply haha! I’ve never heard of Potties White ointment, Ill definitely look it up as an alternative to sudocrem!


  6. I’m impressed, I have to say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s each educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you’ve gotten hit the nail on the head. Your thought is outstanding; the difficulty is something that not sufficient individuals are speaking intelligently about. I’m very happy that I stumbled throughout this in my search for something regarding this.


  7. I just found your post as I was searching for some advice on saddle sores! I’m in the process of healing a saddle sore caused by a set of numnahs I used over a four week period.
    The skin of the sore is now dry and clean, but very sensitive. I might go down the sudocrem route as I expect my horse would love some relief from the soreness!
    My vet advised 2 weeks of no riding, but I was wondering what signs did you look for that let you know it was ok to tack up and ride again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely try sudocreme or I’d also recommend Botanica Herbal Cream for it. To be honest, you’d be looking to see the start of some hair growth before you try riding again. You basically want the sore to be nearly fully healed before riding again otherwise you could set yourself back another few weeks.


      1. Thanks! I’ve also got some Germolene to help with the pain. I’m sure my horse is associating pain with the saddle because of this episode, so a bit of anaesthetic and then put the saddle on, just so he knows it can be pain free (not to ride, just standing in the stable with it on for 5mins)


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