Protect your horse from sunburn
- Most gray and white horses are sensitive to the sun. A true white will have pink skin, and a gray will have black skin. It’s the pink skin on all horses that you really need to worry about. You will also find pink noses and legs and sometimes backs on other colorations, as well.
- The bottom line is that sunburn happens easily on pink skin – nose, ears, backs, even lower legs for those horses with a lot of chrome. I have also seen one paint horse that had blisters on his white markings over his back from being in the sun.
- Darker skin can still be burned, so use caution with any horse that has thinner or missing or clipped hair.
Pink skin is at risk!
Don’t forget about under the chin – a dollop of sunscreen will do the trick!
- Horses that are clipped in the summer, even bays and chestnuts, can develop sunburn on that clipped skin.
- Also, a word of caution for bands or braids in the mane, use a bit of sunscreen between the braids where the skin is exposed to prevent sunburn and blisters.
Prevent sunburn on your horse
- Fly masks with a lower flap can cover delicate noses and ears. You can also use fly masks while riding, there are a few designs out there that are made for just that.
- I also will apply some SPF 50 or above with Zinc Oxide to delicate noses for riding when the fly mask isn’t on. I think the “baby” formulas last longer? Are they extra thick from massive amounts of zinc oxide? Perhaps.
- Zinc oxide is also found in baby diaper cream, which may last longer on your horse. Zinc oxide is also nice to use, as you can visibly see when you need to reapply. You might find bits of zinc oxide on your horse’s knees and legs if he rubs his nose.
Long-nosed fly masks are amazing. If the nose area is getting goopy, spray it out with the jet setting of your hose nozzle.
- Use caution if you are clipping legs to reveal amazing chrome markings, if your horse goes out a lot, these legs can be burned also. If you can, keep the leg hair, or try and use a clipper blade that leaves more hair. You can learn about clipper blades here.
- For paints and pinto horses with a lot of white on their bodies, use a flysheet also! This will also help with general cleanliness and (logically) flies. Fly sheets are often lightweight and thin, and if you use a white one this will help reflect the heat of the sun away.
- Consider turning your horse out overnight instead of during the day. Or use the pastures with more trees and shade. If your horse has a dry lot, you can strategically place food under shaded areas.
Sunburn can also look like other things.
- It might be sunburn, it might be scratches or other dermatitis infection of your horse’s skin. Anything that doesn’t clear up in a few days by being clean, dry, and covered warrants a call to your Veterinarian.
- Sunburn also looks a lot like photosensitivity. This extremely painful condition is caused when a horse’s body is triggered by UV light to burn and blister from the inside out. It’s possibly due to something your horse ate, it’s also closely related to liver problems, and thus can be very dangerous. Did I mention painful? Your vet is the one to help you on this!
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