In January 2017, after years of wanting, wishing and working toward a goal, my little girl dream finally came true. became a first-time horse owner.
I was a horse-obsessed child in a non-horsey family. My parents would wonder out loud how this obsession took root. I started riding at age 7 and was hooked for life. They were nice enough to sign me up for riding lessons, secretly hoping that the first time I fell off that I would run away from the sport! My family couldn't afford a horse, so I worked at the barn to pay for lessons, shows, etc.
After college, I took lessons when I could afford to pay for them. I was fortunate to meet a few people along the way who had horses that needed a rider, and I happily volunteered. One of those situations led me to the world of dressage, which very much appealed to my Type-A personality!
In late 2015, I had the opportunity to lease my trainer's FEI horse Cory (aka Churchill), a beautiful 17.2-hand liver chestnut Oldenburg gelding out of Contucci. When she first offered him to me, my initial response was, "No, I don't think so!"
I grew up riding Arabians and had never sat on a horse that large. I was intimidated by his size. I'm 5' 2"!
My trainer convinced me to give him a try. She saw a perfect match and knew I would fall in love with him. She was right. We instantly clicked. In 2016, Cory and I competed in my first ever-recognized dressage show season at First Level and qualified for Regional Championships. We were forming a great partnership. When the opportunity arose to purchase Cory, it was my dream come true.
Fast forward a few months when I found myself in the depths of what I refer to as "new horse owner hazing." We all know these large animals are very delicate creatures. I was fortunate to know Cory's health history and previous owners back to when he was 4 years old. The only health issue he ever had was chronic scratches. We did a full metabolic panel and Cushing's test as part of his pre-purchase exam to make sure there was nothing else preventing his immune system from fighting off the scratches. Everything came back normal. He was just a big chestnut with two white hind socks who was very prone to scratches.
Unfortunately, this past winter in the Northeast was exceptionally wet and muddy. Though his legs were meticulously cared for and monitored, within two months I went from, "I can't believe this horse is really mine" high to an unfortunate dose of horse owner reality. Cory had a scratches outbreak that turned frightening. Despite doing our best to keep his legs clean and treat any small sore that appeared, his legs blew up. He had cellulitis, palpable heat, was lame from the pain; it was awful to watch him suffer.
We tried everything. Some treatments didn't work; some actually made his legs worse. He was on antibiotics for weeks, as well as oral steroids. The vet was out to see him at least once a week, sometimes more often. I easily spent well over $2,000 on ointments, antibiotics, vet bills, wraps, etc.
I know better than to search online for medical information, but I was desperate, and I did it anyway. I read horrifying stories about horses that had to be put down due to systemic infection. I left the barn many nights in tears and was in complete despair over the state of Cory's legs and his overall health.
Just as Cory’s scratches were at their absolute worst, the weather forecast was predicting a week of torrential downpours. The vet had ordered Cory to stay on stall rest to keep his legs dry and out of the mud. By the end of the week, Cory was literally losing his mind and the ankle-deep mud from the rain wasn't going away any time soon. He was either going out in the mud, or he was going to get completely worked up and hurt himself in his stall because of our attempts to keep his legs dry and clean.
After many late nights spent searching scratches treatments, I found the Sox for Horses website. I read every testimonial and was cautiously hopeful after viewing the 'before' and 'after' photos. I admit I was skeptical that 1) they would fit his large legs, 2) they would stay up/on, and 3) they would work. My vet and trainer were skeptical as well, but I was desperate and willing to try anything! If the Sox worked, it would be the best $70 I ever spent. If not, they would join the growing pile of scratches treatments that didn't work.
I called Sox for Horses and the representative was an angel in my time of need. She instilled confidence in their product by explaining that the Sox work as a result of good science applied to bandaging—the silver technology that is the foundation of the Sox. She told me that the Sox allow equine pastern dermatitis to heal by providing the legs with hygienic protection that allowed air to reach the skin. I was assured that the Sox would keep Cory’s legs dry and free from mud/dirt by protecting and wicking moisture from the skin, even if the Sox get wet and muddy.
The Sox for Horses rep gave me instructions for a healing protocol: Cory would need to wear the Sox all day, every day, except for when he was working. The Sox should be changed daily at turn-in, and I should to continue use of any topical medications that had been prescribed by my vet.
Most importantly, she calmed my fears by telling me that, “Horses have a great ability to heal if given the right protection.” I was told that I should see positive changes within a week; however, I was cautioned that it could take a month or more for Cory’s legs to completely heal. She worked with me to get the Sox in the mail ASAP and said to call “Tech Support” anytime with questions or concerns. Throughout our conversation, I could sense her absolute confidence in the Sox, which eased my worries and gave me hope that we could finally heal Cory’s legs.
Much to my utmost relief and surprise, his legs immediately started improving with the use of the Sox and SSD cream on the open sores. Within just one day there was drastic improvement! The swelling had gone down and his skin color was a healthy pink instead of an angry red.
I really can't say enough wonderful things about these Sox! I refer to these as our Miracle Sox! Cory will forever wear these Sox to keep his legs healthy. He always had a tendency to stock up in his hind legs, as he is such a big guy. My vet is happy that they also act as compression bandaging and prevent him from getting stocked up.
The Sox for Horses people can, and love to, speak at length about the science behind the Sox. But here's what I know for sure: We tried everything and nothing was working until Sox.
There is such a thing as doing too much and using too many different treatments. When skin is that angry and inflamed, it needs to be treated very gently. My vet once said to treat the inflamed skin as if you were treating severe sunburn. Many of the treatments marketed for scratches contain Tea Tree Oil. My personal dermatologist told me that Tea Tree Oil can be very caustic and should never be used on open sores/inflamed skin. In trying to make him better, we were inadvertently making him worse with some of the treatments we were using.
Every horse is different and responds differently to treatment. An ointment that works for one horse might irritate another horse. It turns out my guy has pretty sensitive skin. A redhead with sensitive skin—he really is my horse soul mate!
When treating severe scratches, less really is more. Keep the legs clean and dry. That is not easy to do on a farm, especially during mud season! That's where the Sox come in. They keep the legs clean and dry to create an environment for the body to heal.
The people at Sox For Horses have my sincerest gratitude and deepest appreciation for producing the Silver Whinnys Sox. I've been in sales for 14 years. When I find a product that works and that I believe in, I want to shout it from the rooftops. That's how I feel about this product.
In addition to offering a great product that saved my horse's legs, they also have top-notch customer service. They not only offer technical support, but also emotional support to horse owners, like me, who are in utter despair over their horses’ health. As you all know, when your horse hurts, your heart hurts.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Cory was a saint. He let us treat his legs, even when his legs must have felt awful to be touched. He doesn't mind the Sox at all. He is a champ about having them pulled on and off. Part of me wonders if he knows the Sox made his legs feel better.
Due to our scratches ordeal and lost training time, our show season start has been a bit delayed this year. We are still hoping to make our (my) Second Level debut with the hopes of qualifying for Regional Championships. Last year at one of our shows, which happened to be on my birthday, we had to scratch our classes because one of his sores opened up and wouldn't stop bleeding. Not this year! Cory will be sporting his Sox at all the shows this summer, and I will be raving about them to anyone who asks.
Most importantly, my boy's legs are healthy, and he is no longer sore and suffering. With continued use of the Sox, we will, hopefully, never have to go through that ordeal again. For that, Cory and I are beyond thankful.
As a side note, my boyfriend is also very thankful that I no longer come home from the barn crying and spend my evenings Googling scratches remedies.
This article was written by Michelle Conlon.
Note From Sox For Horses Inc. Though many of our customers refer to Silver Whinnys as “magic sox” or “miracle sox”, they are bandage/barriers that utilize the best application of the most current American yarn science. We believe your animals deserve the best in silver technologies. Sox For Horses can be found at www.soxforhorses.com. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 850-907-5724. Sox for Horses are veterinarian-recommended, owner-referred, and horse and dog approved.