How to groom the eye area of your horse


The most important thing to do for your horse’s eyes is to pay attention to them daily, then you can think of grooming the eye area. For one reason, and one reason only. Eyes don’t grow back. Luckily, most horses do a fine job of staying out of trouble in the eye department.


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up close of a horse eye in winter


Call your vet when you see:


  • Excessive eye rubbing. Horses often rub their eyes on their knees, lower legs, you, the fence, a buddy, a bucket, a window, etc. when they have ulceration or other eye irritation.


  • Redness.


  • More than normal discharge from the eye. This may, or may not, translate into more than normal crusty eye boogers. Pardon the lack of technical terms here.


horse with drippy left eye

Eye crust, drainage, “boogers” are all signs that something may not be right with your horse’s eye.


  • Excessive eye-watering.


  • Swelling. Sometimes a bonk or cut around the eye can create swelling. Sometimes the actual eye can be injured. Often, it’s easiest to see swelling when you look directly at your horse’s face to compare eyes.


  • Anything out of the ordinary.


  • Sometimes eye problems are also signaled by head tossing and head tilting, also a great reason to call the veterinarian.

Eye injuries in horses hurt like mad.


  • Eyes problems create major pain due to excessive nerve endings, and delaying help is risky and just not very nice.


horse with clipped face and brown eye


There is little need to curry comb and brush the eye area.


  • More often than not, a simple wipe with a clean (dry or damp) towel is all that’s called for. I will sometimes use a damp towel to wipe away any eye crusts. I will also check for wayward eyebrow hairs. Like whiskers, eyebrow hairs tell your horse about his immediate surroundings. I generally leave these hairs alone and avoid clipping them during a body clip. I will, however, trim a stray eyebrow hair if it goes rogue and begins to poke at the eye. I have known several horses with one crazy hair that needs some pruning every now and then.


  • When flies and bugs are seemingly everywhere during the warmer months, I like to use a little fly spray on my horse’s body and face. I will spray his body, but I always use a hand or towel to apply it under my horse’s eyes. Roll-on-fly products are great for that. If you apply a product above the eye, there’s a chance that sweat and gravity will conspire with gravity and drip into your horse’s eye.



gray horse eye with pink skin just above it

Watch out for pink skin patches – easy to sunburn!


  • I also love fly masks, and in most cases will use them year-round. They protect eyes and noses from the sun, bugs, and dust.


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Cashel Quiet Ride Horse Fly Mask with Long Nose and Ears
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Plughz Horse Sound Off Ear Net

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Derby House Elite Sweet Itch Combo Neck Fly Sheet

Sweet itch is best battled by not letting those annoying midges bite your horse.

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Schneiders Adjusta-Fit Mosquito Mesh Hybrid

For horses with sweet itch and other insect allergies, more coverage is better.

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LeMieux Classic Ear Bonnet Hunter Green

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These fly masks are fantastic for protecting ears and eyes, and do great under halters and grazing muzzles to stop rubs and hairless patches.

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