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Horse Racing/blistering


hello sir, what does "blistering" mean in horse racing terms? is it an ointment?

Hi Rohit:

Thanks for your question - although this is outside the realm of my expertise, I found the following information on the Internet regarding your question:

Quote - Horse blistering is very controversial subject. Many people swear by it and some believe it is cruel and ineffective. Whatever the case is in your mind, the fact is that all types of blisters sell around the horse world for a good money.
WHAT is horse blistering? People who are not involved with horses most likely have no idea. And ye, I agree it might sound cruel and even be cruel, if not done with knowledge. When you blister a horse, you will cause an irritation to it's skin, and the blistered spot might "blow up" for quite some time. Why on earth would this be helpful? Frankly I do not know the answer to that question. What I do know is that blistering often helps a horse. I'm a firm believer of that. I also believe that if it is not done right and hard blister is used it can be very painful for the horse.

I've been involved with harness racing for decades and I've seen too many different blisters to mention by the name. Most common light blisters have iodine and they do not usually cause any heavy irritation. If you have never used blisters on your horse, you might want to start with these type of blisters. You can even wrap your horses legs after most iodine blisters, if you want to. Remember that each horse reacts different way for any leg paint you are using, so start carefully. You can always use more next day, if your horse did not react in any way. In my experience most chestnuts and greys have more sensitive skin than bay horses.

Cedar oil is very popular blister at least in the harness racing community. There is different ways to treat the horse after blistering with cedar oil. Some tell you to wash horses legs thoroughly the next day. I've never done that. The way I was told to use cedar oil is the "old school" way, and to me it seems to be working, so why mess with it? Make sure your horse is dry before using the cedar oil. Most tack shops sell wooden brushes to use with cedar oil, make sure you do not get any on your own skin.

I never use cedar oil for more than one place in the leg at the time. Most often I blister the front knees with it. This could be tricky to do if your horse is racing because those knees might "blow up" and get a thick scurf and your horse might be tender on the blister area for quite a while. I always blister knees in the front, never behind. After blistering I try not to get the area wet for about three days, if horse is jogged and needs a bath plastic wrap around the blistered area is a very handy trick.

You can also blister horses hocks on the sides with good results. While blistering I always follow with the brush to the direction of the hair, I never brush back and worth with cedar oil. And to me the good rule is that less is more, do not use too much, if you have never blistered the horse before, you can always add the next day but never take away!

Stifles might be the trickiest spot to blister on a horse, the skin around the stifle is very tender, but at the same time horses stifles benefit from the blister maybe the most. I rarely use cedar oil on the stifles, usually some iodine base blisters will work without over irritating the skin. I never blister the stifles from the inside, but I can use mild iodine blister all around the back end of the horse, hamstrings are often another sore area on the horse.

Another thing to remember while using cedar oil is that some horses legs do not "blow" right away, I've seen horses who look normal the next day, but have big legs the second day. So you might want to wait two days before repeating the blister, if the leg did not react as hoped.

I'm not too fond of blistering coronets with cedar oil, but I recommend everyone to try some iodine blister for their horses coronets in the front of the legs. Ankles are easy to blister, just go all the way around but try not to go all the way up, if there is a problem, the leg will react even if you just blister the lower portion.

After blistering with cedar oil I might give a horse a day off if the legs react a lot, second day it is back jogging like usual. In my experience even with blown legs sore horses usually jog better right away after being blistered, if you hit the right spot. Never try to take the scurf away before the new skin has fully grown underneath, otherwise you might just open a new wound and cause unneeded infection on the leg.

As always if you are not sure about using stronger blisters on your horse ask the advice from the people with more experience, helping your horse to stretch his legs with blister is a great tool to have, but do not overdo it by blistering everything at once with a heavier blister trying to find the problem. Not a good idea in my mind, go one spot at the time! - unquote.

I hope this helps you to understand "blistering" - please leave me with favorable rankings.  

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Jim Johnson


I can answer all questions regarding the sport of gambling on either or both thoroughbreds and greyhounds - beginning with the initial handicapping process with regard to decisions on which horse or dog to wager, through the wagering process, and ending with the results and profits or losses from those wagers. See my website at


I have worked in thoroughbred tracks and greyhound tracks for the last 30 years and have been highly successful in making profits from my own handicapping systems, both in sales of my systems, and use of my systems in the wagering process. I publish and sell a "Tip Sheet" for any track in the continental United States, Canada, and one greyhound track in Mexico.

Mutuel Clerk Guild of Arkanas

"The Perfect Speed Handicapping System" for handicapping thoroughbred races and "Greyhounds - The Ultimate Speed Machine" system for handicapping greyhound races. These are books that I have written and sell on the internet.

Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from East Texas College, in Commerce, Texas.

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Multiple "High Five" awards for exceptional customer relations treatment by the Oaklawn Jockey Club.

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Publishing a "Tip Sheet" in-track for sale at Oaklawn Jockey Club and "Jim's Big Three Best Bets" (also for sale at Oaklawn Jockey Club) on greyhound simulcast races. Have puplished "Tip Sheets" for greyhound and thoroughbred tracks in Arkanas, Kansas, and West Virginia.

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