Summer is here! We have been waiting and the sun is finally out longer and much hotter than in the winter months. Just like humans do, horses burn under powerful rays of the summer sun… and just like humans, sunburn in horses is extremely painful. The burning rays of the sun place horses at risk not only for skin damage which can lead to neoplasia (abnormal growth), but also dehydration and stress from the heat. Prevention is key. If you can prevent your horse from experiencing equine sunburn, that is the best option. Here are a few tips to keeping your horse happy and healthy!

Symptoms of Sunburn:

 

1. Redness

2. Bright pink skin

3. Dry cracked areas

4. Patches of hair loss

5. Blisters

6. Peeling

7. Head shy when bridling

Sunburns occur most often on horses with light-colored coats, such as grays, appaloosas, paints and pintos, and on horses with bald faces or a white blaze or stripe. Here are some tips to help:

Shelter:

 

Making sure your horse has a barn, run in shed, trees or other shelter is going to allow your horse the freedom to get in the shade as necessary. Many horse owners prefer to stall their horses during the peak hours of sun to prevent sunburn.

Use protective clothing:

 

Look for a fly mask with extensions that cover the ears and most of the muzzle. For light skinned horses with thin coats, consider turning out in a light cotton sheet or summer fly sheet that offers UV protection.

Apply Sunblock:

 

There are horse sunblock products on the market; however, the sunscreen you use will also work for your horse. The key is to apply it often and before sun exposure. Using the highest level of SPF you can find is going to benefit your horse. Try a child’s sunblock for best results. There are some fly sprays that do have SPF but it is typically a very low amount. Reapply sunblock regularly; horses that are grazing may need frequent applications because creams will be wiped off on tall grass. Some products come in a range of bright colors, which will make it easier to see when it’s time to put on more cream. Products containing zinc often hold up the best; think of the zinc oxide that lifeguards use.

If your horse gets mild sunburn on his muzzle or face, apply a soothing ointment such as aloe. Then put a heavy coating of sunscreen over that to minimize further injury. Make sure your horse has access to plenty of fresh, clean water; hydration helps heal damaged skin. If the symptoms are severe or don’t resolve, consult your veterinarian. Remember that prevention is the best and healthiest way to manage sun damage.

Vitamin D is important for your horse’s overall health; he needs the sunlight, but just make sure it’s the right amount! Our Therapeutic Mesh Sheet is breathable and not only covers the horse, but has a whole list of benefits to make your horse feel his best! Our Rejuvenate SmartScrim is also a perfect solution to, not only combat the effects of the sun, but allow your horse’s bodily functions to harmonize safely and naturally. The list of benefits goes on and on including stimulating recovery time, promoting blood circulation, increasing oxygen flow, and ultimately reducing pain and stiffness.