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Discussion on Hair Loss/Nodules at Girth

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Robin Levine
New Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 1
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, Mar 12, 2004 - 8:04 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Last summer my horse suddenly had little tiny bumps in the girth area, under his front arms and on his leg, near his chest. The ranged in size and I would compare them to pimples. Hair started to thin so after. My vet had me wash the area with Betadine scrub every day and eventually it got better. By the end of the summer and with the cold weather, they subsided. All winter he's been fine. I had been using a synthetic fleece girth for the last year in a half up until last week. We had a bought of warmer temps and my horse sweat. Within in a week or two the bumps appeared and then his hair thinned leaving a bald patch, one larger than the other on either side of his girth. My vet diagnosed it as contact dermatitis and I bought a sheepskin girth. Now he's got me washing the area with a antibacterial soap and I am putting a medication of the spots each day. The vet and everyone at the barn says it's ok to continue riding since the horse seems to be in no pain and the skin is not inflammed or raw; just bald. I feel guilty riding him and don't know if this could lead to more problems. The bumps have little white heads to them as well. Has anyone experienced this before and if so how did you cope? My horse has been in training for the spring shows so I am hoping to catch this before it gets worse, whatever it is.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10066
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 8:23 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

These are probably either nodular necrobiosis (NN) or possibly a inflammatory reaction to the girth. You might have your vet try the treatment described for NN at, Equine Diseases » Skin Diseases » Overview of Bumps, Nodules, Warts & Tumors.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 2
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 10:02 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Would u recommend riding? My trainer schools my horse 1/2 hour, 2x a week and I take a 1/2 hour lesson 2x a week. Thanks, Robin:-)
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Liliana Velasco Ariza
Member
Username: Liliana

Post Number: 55
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 11:09 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Rober,
You said "I had been using a synthetic fleece girth for the last year in a half up until last week. We had a bought of warmer temps and my horse sweat." Did the problem start when you took the fleece off, what material is your girth made off?, have you is it clean?, have you changed detergents? can you fit two fingers between girth and horse? I ask you this to help you find the root of the problem. Something similar happened to me and it was because I had layed the girth on the Xmas tree in the car and the resin of the pine was the cause of his alergy.
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Liliana Velasco Ariza
Member
Username: Liliana

Post Number: 56
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 11:27 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Robert,
Reading your post you say "had been using a synthetic fleece girth for the last year and a half up until last week. Did the problem start when you took the fleece off? what material is your girth made off? is it clean? have you change detergents? The reason I ask is because, We have had similar problem on our yard, once it was my mare because her brushes were not rinsed properly and had some detergent residue, another horse came in bumps as I had laid the girth on the Xmas tree in the car and the resin gave him a reaction, another occasion it was a string girth too tight and was not clean (I hate string girths they always keep some grit or mod).
I always feel that finding the root of the problem saves time and money.
All the best

Liliana
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 3
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 2:56 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Liliana,
Thanks for replying. The most recent bout began when the temps got warmer and my horse sweat at the girth a couple of times. I noticed the problem soon after those rides. I periodically cleaned my old synthetic fleece girth which, over time, lost it's original softness. I didn't change detergents. I cleaned his brushes in hot water and a little bleech as well. My girth was not too tight either. When this problem first appeared last summer we thought it was due to bug bites, however, now, with the temps not too cold, not too warm, it would appear the sweating had something to do with it. I am not convinced it's just a girth problem anymore since I found a small nodule on his leg, almost in the crux of his front leg, and another bald spot underneath his chest, between both legs.
Thanks for writing. That was very nice of you!
Robin:-)
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10077
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Saturday, Mar 13, 2004 - 7:39 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I think riding should be fine but experiment with your girths.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 5
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Sunday, Apr 11, 2004 - 5:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Well, I stopped medicating and washing my horse's skin for the last two weeks b/c the vet said to. My horse's hair had started to come in again lightly and I was able to give him a whole body medicated bath. Unfortunately the hair has started to fall out again and the spots on both sides of his body are now much larger. The skin still does not seem inflammed but there are nodules, like little pimples, on the exposed skin and even under his arms, which makes me think that it is not necessarily girth related but definitely a skin disease. I have stopped riding and started the washing and medication again. We were supposed to go to a big show this weekend and now I do not know if the vet will suggest I continue riding/training him. I am very depressed about this and hope that a cure will be found. Anyone with any info or even with a comforting word please respond. :R(
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 45
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Sunday, Apr 11, 2004 - 6:31 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Tinactin cream and Tinactin powder. Scrub the areas with iodine soap, Rinse well, making SURE you go back over all the areas and PICK The tops of the pimples OFF by scratching with you fingernails if need be. This won't work if it can't get INTO the nodules. Make sure it is dry and THEN apply tinactin cream to each nodule, or if a large area, dust with tinactin powder. I take a bunch in my hand and throw it up und the belly. It is messy but it has to cover the area, so it might be better to smear the cream under the belly. Clean you fleece girth by washing it, rinse thoroughly and when it is completely dry, sprinkle tinactin POWDER all over it. Repeat the tinactin powder every time you ride. The nodules should be gone in a week. EO
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10249
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Monday, Apr 12, 2004 - 9:07 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Robin,
Unfortunately LKR does not have enough information to tell you if this is true or not. This will work if there is a fungal infection present but not if the disease is a bacteria. If you would like to use the Tinactin that is OK but suggest you also use a antibacterial wash and spray every day also to cover all the bases. If these are actual pimples with a “white head” I do not suggest you rupture them but have your vet involved as systemic antibiotics may be helpful. However if these are actually small scabs they should be washed and scrubbed off gently before treatment.
DrO
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 46
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Monday, Apr 12, 2004 - 10:22 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O, I suggested the tinactin since she had had the vet involved and thought that it would not hurt the horse using it. She should see results in 3 or 4 days. EO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 8
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2004 - 1:57 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Me again! Well, my horse's skin was remaining fairly stable up until today. I have been washing his front "underarms" everyday with the antibacterial soap and medicating him on the irritated spots. For the last two weeks he's developed more of the nodules under his arm. They come and go, some were on his elbow too. I can especially feel them when he's wet. The bald spots were filling in slowly which was a good sign. Monday, the barn was closed, so I didn't wash/medicate him. When I got to the barn this morning the spot where he's lost hair was a bit crusty and I noticed his elbow was now more effected with a small bald spot and some nodules. They still don't seem to bother him at all. I can brush them, touch them and he does not flinch. My trainer rode him and he was fantastic. When she finished, and she only rode for a half hour, maybe less, I asked her if she thought I should continue medicating him since his skin looked flaky and dry. She suggested I just wash him off, which I did. While grazing him I noticed that the very dry spots were raw and a tiny bit bloody and definitely irritated. I am besides myself now. My trainer is contacting my vet however I need piece of mind. In two weeks, my dad is flying up from Florida to watch me ride in a big show at our barn and now I am sitting here wondering if I should continue riding him. I am wondering if it's the girth, which is new, sheepskin that velcros onto leather. When this whole thing started I was using a synthetic fleece girth. Now I am wondering if I should use that again or just a plain old leather girth. And I am wondering if it could be saddle placement or fit? My horse has a high wither and we use a riser pad. I am besides myself. Anyone have any ideas? Please do tell......Tomorrow I am supposed to have my lesson and I don't want to hurt my horse. I love him more than anything! Thanks, Robin
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10468
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 7:49 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

What have you been medicating with Robin?
DrO
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Kellie
Member
Username: Kel4s

Post Number: 21
Registered: 9-2002
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 10:28 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I had a thought, and boy did it hurt. Seriously, is your horse only having these issues where the girth is and not under the saddle? If the sweating is causing it, I wonder that your not seeing the nodules under the saddle/saddle blanket. Have you thought about getting an extra saddle blanket/pad and cutting it into strips a little wider than the girth and seeing if that works. Maybe terry cloth towels might work also.

Good luck
Kellie
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 9
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 1:52 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Doc,
We have been using two medicated soaps; novastan (blue soap) and another one that is a fungicide (starts wtih a B, in a white bottle). The two medications; one an ointment (antibacterial) and one a spray (antifungal). This morning I washed him in the antifungal and applied both medications. His skin didn't look as inflammed. It has white spots, some crusty in the bald areas. It seems like where he originally had the tiny nodules is now bald with these white circular areas. Some of the original bald spots are dark skinned with some hair growing back. Since the problem started with my synthetic fleece girth and has continued with the expensive sheep skin girth I am guessing that the girth is not the problem. When would a skin sample be warranted? I am hoping that this is not going to become a chronic issue. Strangely the other side is only mildly effected making me wonder if it's girth placement. Why would one side be more irritated than the other?
Thank you for all your help. Robin
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10473
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 6:34 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I was hoping to find out what the active ingredients in the medicines you are using. Just because the problem has persisted does not rule out girth problems: both girths may be too irritating.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 10
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 1:44 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Doc,
My vet came this morning and took a look at Simon's skin. He said that he believes the problem is all due to pressure, not bacteria/fungi. He left me a spray of Geni-something or other and said to let him heal another couple of days before riding him. He also said that if it was his horse he wouldn't stop riding and that my horse is not sick, just suffering from irritation. Now what? It's always something! I have used three different girths on him and now my trainer wants to go back to his original, all leather girth. Someone else suggested a cotton rope girth and using some girth salve on him and possibly moving the saddle back. Problem with that is I am on my 7th saddle as my horse has a huge wither and finding him a saddle that fit was a major chore. I am at my wits end. My trainer wants to let Simon rest until next week so he can heal then resume with the leather girth. Truthfully, I am beginning to give up hope that I will ever find the right combination of tack to illeviate his problem. Also, I am not sure if it would be better to use a girth with elastic on both sides. Seems the side without the elastic is the side most irritated. Many people have disregarded this notion but it does seem plausible to me. If anyone has anything to offer please do. Thank you so much, Robin
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10484
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, May 21, 2004 - 6:33 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Robin, the skin can only take so much no matter what girth you use and once it has become irritated it has to be rested to heal. It is hard to know exactly how much rest but if things are getting worse there is not enough rest. Since the problem persists with continued riding, you may get further faster by allowing the horse to heal up completely before you girth him again.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 11
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2004 - 2:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My vet says that he thinks the skin condition is due to girth pressure with a secondary fungal/bacterial infection caused from it. He says it's "cosmetic" and that if it was his horse he'd still ride. We gave my horse a week off. The hair didn't grow back much at all. We rode him the last two days for a half hour each with a brand new leather girth. The skin looks the same as when we started. I am supposed to spray his bald spots with gentamycin once a day. Truthfully, my head is spinning b/c I don't know what to do anymore. How many of you would continue to ride? How many of you think I should get a second opinion? I mean, you can't keep applying antibiotics and/or steroids forever. I do not understand the prognosis for a problem like this. If the girth is causing these irritations is the horse then going to be unridable? If I give him months off to regrow the hair, then resaddle him and the girth is just going to reirritate him then what's the point? I am a responsible horse owner and refuse to ride a horse that has raw, inflammed skin. Right now it's neither, just bald, but since it seems to have the capacity to turn ugly over time what am I to do?
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Holly Z.
Member
Username: Cowgrl

Post Number: 220
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, May 27, 2004 - 5:43 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Robin, I would get a second opinion immediately. Also, have you tried a neoprene girth? They're very smooth and shouldn't cause any irritation.

Hope you find the magic formula so your boy gets better.
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Little King Ranch
Member
Username: Eoeo

Post Number: 55
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Friday, May 28, 2004 - 12:30 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I would quit riding him. Let this completely heal up if it is improving without the girths aggravating the skin in that area. However, it still sounds like the track vd as I call it that the race horses get all the time. They are under stress and will break out with a nasty fungal condition. It responds well to tinactin. However, this might be something different. Have you had the raw areas analyzed? EO
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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 393
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, May 28, 2004 - 6:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Robin,
We had a similar problem with a mare, a TB cross with healthy, albeit almost transparent skin. It turned out that there was nothing wrong with her skin, it was just too fine.
The situation resolved with a soft girth and a fleece sleeve, the tube type that the girth goes through. I am a bit sceptical for the velcro attachment you describe, I think it would make the girth stiff.
Just keeping the girth and sleeve clean and soft (rinsing all the sweat out every single time)has done the job.
Oh, let's not forget stretching both front legs forward after girthing up so the skin slides in place. This does not only eliminate wrinkles, it also "brushes" the hair under the girth nice, flat and tidy.


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Christos Axis
Member
Username: Christos

Post Number: 394
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Friday, May 28, 2004 - 6:24 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

And I wouldn't continue riding him. As far as I know horses do not get calluses, ie their skin does not thicken with work or become more resistant. I believe it is not a cosmetic issue, they really need the hair for protection.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10531
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, May 28, 2004 - 7:25 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

The problem Robin is that we cannot see the problem therefore any specific advice we give is not based on anything but what you have said. Everyday I talk with horseowners on the phone and then go see the horse only to find something different than what they described or important missed details, this makes me slow to give you specific advice. If you are truly in a quandry as to what to do next get a second opinion from someone who can see the problem. If they tell you something different than your vet you should get them together to see if they can come to a concensus. You do need to rethink your reasoning, "just because this might happen again I should not give it a chance to heal up." Continued irritation of sores or a open wound without healing could lead to scarring.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 12
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Saturday, May 29, 2004 - 3:35 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

You won't believe this! I got to the barn this morning to find Simon's underarms looking better, even looks like some hair is growing back. However, his neck was covered with hives. There were some on his sides and a couple on his butt. My trainer examined him and said that we should wait and that they might disappear. A couple of other horses have them too so perhaps it's just bug bites. I called this afternoon to check on him and he is the same as he was this morning. Small little bumps on his neck. It's always something with these horses. I read the section on hives and am hoping that this problem is not isolated to just my horse. There is nothing new at the barn, in terms of hay, shavings, etc. so I don't know what could be causing the hives except perhaps bug bites.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 10549
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Thursday, Jun 3, 2004 - 8:32 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Great about the girth and I have addressed your hive post elsewhere.
DrO
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Robin Levine
Member
Username: Rob10549

Post Number: 14
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Friday, Jun 18, 2004 - 1:33 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Update: Hi Doc and to all that offered their assistance. I had a second opinion on my horse's skin last week. As it turns out, she believes that the main problem with my horse's skin is the saddle fit and the combination of pads I am using. Currently, we use a sheepskin pad with a Cashel rising pad underneath, which we cut to fit. As I have mentioned before, my horse has a large, bony wither and a dip in his back making it extremely hard to fit him. After trying many, many saddles, I found one last year, a Cliff Barnsby, that fit his gigantic wither but dips slightly at the cantle. We have been using this Cashel pad to give the saddle a tiny lift where needed. However, the vet thinks that the pad is moving when we ride thus moving the girth forward and causing the irritation. The skin looked healthy to her and she said it was fine to ride him. She is having me use the antibiotic cream for two more weeks then I will check in with her. Meanwhile I am now trying to figure out a way to give the saddle some lift without using the Cashel. I just came back from the tack store and looked at a pad with a raised back but it was 2", too much of a raise. I also saw one that I could stuff myself as it has a pocket in the back and it was also suggested that I could take some felt and place it between the panels to give the saddle a bit of a lift. My horse's skin looks much better since I started using the leather girth too. Thanks for all your help. Robin:-)
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Holly Zukowski
Member
Username: Cowgrl

Post Number: 256
Registered: 6-2004
Posted on Friday, Jun 18, 2004 - 3:42 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

What about using a foam lollipop pad for a riser? I used to use one and it worked well. It squishes down when you mount so it wouldn't give you a tremendous amount of lift but it might be enough for what you need.

Glad your horse is better.
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Liliana Velasco Ariza
Member
Username: Liliana

Post Number: 140
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Friday, Jun 18, 2004 - 6:35 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Robin,

Well, I know that money is always an issue with most of us horse lovers, but, I was just thinking. what if you go into www.thorowgood.com }I had a saddle made to one of my horses witha high wither, At least in my case by the time I added up what I spent on saddle pads, antiseptics, non riding days and vets fees. It realy made more sence to have a saddle made to measure.

All the best
love your horses
Liliana
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