Allergic to wool?

By Patty Wilber

Lucy had become something of a tail swisher, but I finally got it calmed down with regular chiropractic work. Yay!

Lucy early this year, with her tail unswished. Photo by Craze.

Then, early this summer she started up again, despite the chiro, and after a bit, she also started to scratch her back, vigorously enough that she was losing hair.

I blocked off her favorite scratching tree and that saved her skin from being rubbed raw, thank goodness..

Then, she started getting hives under her saddle pad.  Bother.  Lucky for me, despite the hives, she still worked well, with a nice facial expression, so the judges still used her, despite her busy tail and certain discomfort.  Lucy can be quite stoic (except for her tail.)

I figured the hives must be due to the heat and the dirt in the saddle pad, so I bought some Lettia Coolmax cotton saddle pad liners, and started washing them, and her back after each ride.  No more hives!  Quieter tail!  Happier to run!

Pretty exciting cotton saddle pad liner! Lettia Coolmax

At the last show Buckskin club show of the year (Sept. 26), I made sure to stay off her back unless I needed to be on her, I pulled her saddle midday, and rinsed her back to make sure she did not get too hot. No hives, quiet tail, and she had a really good show that included her best ever cow and reining work, so that seemed to help.

But… the liners like to slip back, so I started pulling them forward and folding them over the front of the saddle pad.  That kept them in place, but then she started getting hives in a not very hot or sweaty spot toward the back of the saddle where the WOOL saddle pad was touching her.

Hm! Wool!

So, I looked that up on the amazing Internet, and yes indeed, horses can be allergic to wool.  And they can acquire an allergy to wool over time. Some horses become batshit crazy acting when they have a wool pad, so I feel pretty lucky that all I got was a swishy tail and perhaps a reluctance to really run….

(But that lack of run might be her personality or an uncomfortable gut or that she needed a chiropractic adjustment…

So, regular chiro.  Check. 

And shoes every 5 to 6 weeks to keep her feet right so she doesn’t fall out of adjustment. Check.

And for her gut: daily aloe juice, and Aloe Gel plus Gastro Guard or Gastrix when she shows. Check.

Because basically, I am happy to just throw money at this horse because, what the heck.  She is super cool. Super cool. Check.)

But back to wool.  I sewed a tab on my Lettia Coolmax cotton liners so I can run a tether through the tab and affix the tether to my saddle horn to prevent the pad from slipping back.

Next, I probably need to find non-wool pads to go on top of the liner, just to be completely wool free!

The Appaloosa World Show is coming up, so by golly, we are going to have all our ducks in a row by then so we can put forth our very best performances there!


About BlogPatty

Here's the skinny: I have a thing for horses. They make sense to me. I have a small horse training business (it's a "boutique" training business, not because it's super fancy, but because the horses get a lot of personal attention). I also go by Dr. Wilber, and teach biology full-time at a Central New Mexico Community college.
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3 Responses to Allergic to wool?

  1. Wow, nice work in tracking that down! And what a nice easy fix to make her more comfortable…

  2. Elizabeth Moon says:

    So glad you found out what was making her itchy and twitchy and tail-switchy. Some English-style saddle pads (mostly cotton on the horse-touching surfaces) have tabs already sewn on..they attach to English-style girths to deep the pads from shifting as horses run and jump. I don’t know if they’d be the right size or would work for you, but maybe?

    And they come in many colors, too, if coordinating with your thicker pad is important for showing. Dressage pads are the square edged ones; all-purpose and jumping pads work for the forward position of the panels. Tons of pictures of them here, showing the little straps…might be a way to connect them to your thick over-pad.

    Then again if those nice white ones are getting the job done, why look further? (Farther? My brain is going soft.)

    • BlogPatty says:

      I looked at those but they are not quite the right shape. But a friend just lent me a really nice wool free pad that I think I can work with!

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