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A saddle sore is a skin ailment on the buttocks due to, or exacerbated by, riding on a bicycle saddle. It often develops in three stages: skin abrasion, folliculitis (which looks like a small, reddish acne), and finally abscess. Because it most commonly starts with skin abrasion, it is desirable to reduce the factors which lead to skin abrasion. Some of these factors include:

  • Reducing the friction due to bobbing or swinging motion while pedaling, by setting the appropriate saddle height. Angle and fore/aft position can also play a role, and different riders have different needs and preferences in relation to this.
  • Selecting an appropriate saddle.
  • Wearing good cycling shorts, with chamois padding.
  • Using petroleum jelly, chamois cream or lubricating gel to further reduce friction.

If left untreated over an extended period of time, saddle sores may need to be drained by a physician.

In horses and other pack animals, saddle sores often form around the girth area, known as a girth gall. Other "saddle" sores can be found on either side of the withers, over the loin, and occasionally in other locations. These sores are usually caused by hard or ill fitted gear or unbalanced loads. The incidence of sore backs may be reduced by not removing the saddle too quickly after a long ride.[1] Reducing friction is also of great help in preventing equine saddle sores.

See also[]

  • Cycling
  • Bicycling
  • Cycling shorts
  • Girth
  • Pack saddle
  • Saddle


  1. Hayes, Capt. M. Horace, Veterinary Notes for Horse Owners, Stanley Paul, London, 1977