summer skin issues for horses

Summer skin issues for horses


Summer creates skin issues for horses because it can. Bugs, heat, sprays, dew, you name it. That’s the best explanation I have! But let’s examine some common summer skin problems and see what we can do for our horses.


  • Sunburn – Totally painful and also totally preventable. Pink-skinned horses (true white hair) will suffer unless they are protected with zinc ointment, fly masks, fly boots, and/or daytime stabling. It’s actually really easy to prevent if you put protection in place in the morning. Blisters on pink skin might be sunburn, or it might be photosensitivity, so involve your vet. Photosensitivity often has accompanying liver problems, which are B-A-D. More on sunburn here.


horse wearing a fly mask with ears and full nose coverage

Cover up to prevent sunburn!


  • Rubs – So in an attempt to protect our horses from the universe of sun and bugs we often create rubs with our sheets and face masks. Inspect withers, shoulders, inside of hind legs, under the neck, well, just look everywhere. You will see shortened hairs, crumpled hairs, out of place hairs before the rub goes bald. After a bald spot forms, your horse will get a sore. Attack with new clothes, fuzzy padding, adjusting the fit, or sheet liners. Having a few styles of muzzles and sheets and fly masks allows you to rotate through if one is creating a rub. For more on rubs, read this. I also use body glide sticks that runners and hikers use to prevent rubs and sores.



horse pink nose doing flehmen response

Pink skin needs protection


  • Insect bites – these vary in severity from a little spot, to a huge hive, to a bald open sore, to nothing more than an itchy spot. Ticks can be particularly irritating, not to mention disease-carrying, so inspect daily and remove them. Larger bites can affect tack. Bites that turn into sores might get infected. Any severe bite warrants a phone call to the vet just in case.


sox for horses on a horse leg standing in grass

Silver Whinny’s from Sox for Horses are a must for the horse that stomps, is photosensitive, has scratches, or mystery skin funk.


  • Scratches and Equine Pastern Dermatitis (EPD) – the dreaded lower leg war of the scabs. Clean and dry is best, so it catching it early. Daily leg inspections (wouldn’t you know you can read about that here) catch scratches early. Sometimes you can nip things in the bud, sometimes you need the vet. Scratches can also look like photosensitivity, so be aware. More on EPD here with some frankly gross photos.


  • Summer fungus – A popular description among horse owners, especially those in hot and humid areas. A fungus amongus is often a case of a bacterial infection, but saying fungus amongus is clearly more fun to say. Sometimes topical potions help, sometimes they don’t. The key is early detection, and looping the vet in for suggestions. Sometimes systemic antibiotics are warranted.


small scab on horse heel that indicates equine scratches or dermatitis

Super fun scratches. 🙁 At least it’s very small.


  • Sweet itch – A super horrible reaction to tiny, almost invisible midge bugs. The reaction causes intense itching, which causes rubbing, which causes scabs, which cause itching… you see how this is bad. Specialty sheets and fatty acid based fly sprays help. More deets here!


  • Random bald spots on the face – who knows. So many reasons – sweat, fly sprays, rubs from masks, bugs. Same as usual – monitor and intervene if necessary. More on random bald spot formations here.


Daily grooming, sun protection, and a super fly control plan can all work together to give your horse the best possible summer skin.

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Eco Vet Fly Spray – Funny smell, serious fly spray


Cashel Quiet Ride Bug Armor – 2 Piece Set

Shires, Performance Fly Sheet – this goes up and over the neck and poll for max coverage for the horse with sweet itch.

Amigo Mio Fly sheet – I love this one, the extra long tail prevents bugs up the butt, and the neck piece is great. It’s also super light, which means it tears easily.

Cashel Crusader Horse Fly Mask with Ears and Long Nose – select size


horse wearing sox for horses on mat

Sox for Horses – for any skin funk, fly problem, summer sore, stomping, etc.

Gold Bond Chafing Defense Anti-Friction Formula, Unscented 1.75 oz (49.6 g)(Pack of 1) – to make rubs slick and slippery

Shoofly fly boots

Thank you!