Which blanket type causes the least pressure on the withers?
Does your horse have white hairs on its withers? Then they are likely caused by pressure sores. Pressure sores are seen in both humans and animals and occur most frequently on bony parts of the body. The withers are particularly vulnerable because of the spinous processes and can be damaged by an ill-fitting saddle, pads and blankets. The study discussed in this article gives us knowledge on what blanket type inflicts the least pressure on the withers.
Pressure on the skin can lead to a decreased flow of underlying blood vessels. This obstruction deprives the tissue of nutrients, oxygen and allows waste product to accumulate. This can lead to tissue death and damage to the hair follicles. Sweat or rain can make the horse’s withers even more vulnerable. To test blanket pressure on the withers, twelve horses were subjected to three different blankets. A straight cut blanket (3.7kg), u-shape (3.9kg) and a V-shape (4.5kg).
The V-shape was the best overall blanket. While the u-shape showed the lowest overall pressure, it had the highest peak pressure measured at one point of the withers. Al blankets showed a change in pressure during walking and standing phase. The straight cut showed the most increase during walking so this may not be the most suitable option for active horses. Finally, horses with an upright shoulder (>60°) endured greater total force on the withers because of the steep angle.
> From: Clayton et al., Vet J. 184 (2017) 52-5. All rights reserved to Elsevier Ltd. Click here for the online summary.