It is fairly normal at this time of year to see rub marks that have not occurred before. Although this is considered a good indication that your saddle should be checked it is also to be expected at certain times of the year.
MSFI Founder and professional saddle fitter Georgie Welge explains “Horses hair grows in phases (as it does in humans); ‘Anagen’, the phase of active growing, ‘Catagen’ a phase where the hair has grown to its fullest potential and the hair bulbs starts to shrink away no longer suppling nutrients to the hair root and finally the ‘Telogen’ stage, where the hair is in complete rest ready to be pushed out by a new hair that will be coming through”.
Welge continues “In humans these phases are random and spread all over the body at different times but in horses these phases happen with the seasons. Popular belief is that the temperature is the reason this changes but it is actually more about the day light hours also know as the ‘photoperiod’”.
When hair is in the Telogen phase it has no root and no way to be fed, therefore, after a period the hair becomes weak and fragile which is why you will see more rubbing or disturbance of the hair. When the next phase of Catogen starts it will start to push the old hair out of the follicle making it easier for the hair to fall away. This is why areas on the horse with the most friction (i.e. at the back of the saddle) the hair will come out much faster and may even form bald patches.
If you start to see this rubbing occurring in Spring or Autumn you may not need to be too alarmed. However, if the hair fails to regrow then a check of your horse’s health and saddle fit would be advised. If you see a change in your horse’s condition or extra movement from your saddle then, of course, please ensure to get your saddle checked as soon as possible.