We worry about sun exposure for ourselves and (hopefully) slather on sunscreen before we head outside to ride. But what about your horse? Does he need sunglasses and sunscreen too?
The short answer is that yes, your horse can benefit from sun protection! Here are some common sun-exposure issues to be aware of.
- Coat Bleaching
This one is mostly cosmetic, but it can turn your beautiful bay into an orange-y copper color. Yuck. The hair becomes damaged and can bleach out and even change texture, the same way your hair gets brittle and dry after too many hours on the beach. Some equine coat moisturizers come with sunscreen, so spray your horse liberally, or toss a fly sheet over him for even better protection from the sun.
Horses with light or pink skin can be susceptible to painful sunburn. To protect these areas, use a fly sheet or mask, or slather on sunscreen or zinc oxide. This is important in light-pigmented skin, because horses can get skin cancer and protection plays a big role in preventing it (just like in humans).
- Eye Sensitivity
No, you can’t put sunglasses on your horse, but sometimes your horse could benefit from eye protection in the sun. This is especially true for horses with light skin around their eyes. Signs that your horse’s eyes are bothering him include watery eyes, squinting, or head shaking. The best protection in this case is a fly mask which can block some of the harmful rays.