What can I do for my horse’s bed sores?

Some horses get rubs, which start as patches of broken hairs, then the hair is gone, then they get small sores, then they get big sores.  They are totally a pain in the butt to heal, as they get broken open every time your horse lays down.  Common locations for sores like these are the hocks, the fetlocks, and the hips.  



Pointy areas on your horse are common locations for sores. 


When you are grooming, you may notice an area of your horse (usually a bony area) where the hairs are a bit shorter than the others.  Now is the time to intervene!  Attack this situation from a few angles.  


  • Where does your horse roll and where does he sleep?  Time for a bedding change?  Time to add a layer or two?  If your horse likes to sleep outside, but his bedding is inside, there are some great options for outdoor bedding.  Cedar shreds and pine pellets are good options in all sorts of weather.  



This hock shield provides cushion and coverage, great for sores that need the medicine to stay put and not get filled with dirt. 


  • Protect the skin.  If your horse doesn’t have any broken skin, figure out a way to stop the rubs.  Options include using a super sticky bandage, covering with goopy ointment, using boots or blankets to protect your horse. 



The beginnings of a hock sore, just a little bit of broken hairs.    


  • For hock sores, you can use fuzzy hock boots For fetlocks, standing wraps work well, but if your horse doesn’t need them otherwise, you may want an easier option.  You can also use a bell boot in an unconventional manner to protect the joint.  For hips, get your sewing kit out and sew two leg quilts into a blanket to cushion the hips.  Use a fly sheet in the summer to hold the quilt cushions in place.  



Be careful with neoprene - it doesn't breathe so well and may not be best for open wounds, or in the heat of summer. 


  • If the skin is broken, work with your Veterinarian to make a plan for healing and protection.  It’s likely that you don’t want to cover the wound 24/7.  Find out about using ointments and band-aids during overnight/rolling sessions/naps and leaving open during the day.  You will also need to find out about preventing any scab from splitting, as joints are pointy and like to do that sort of thing.  It's most likely that keeping the scab moist will help here. 



I love this sticky bandage for covering bare areas before a sore has opened.  


  • Don’t forget about fly protection for any rubs or open sores, and be aware of using harsh cleansers for cleaning.  You have a few options for cleaning any open wounds, like an iodine scrub or a chlorhexidine solution.  


How do you help your horse with bed sores?