It’s been drummed into all of us that when you go out to enjoy the sun, you must reach for the sunscreen. But it’s easy to forget that your horse is at risk, too. If he doesn’t have any areas of pink skin, he’s lucky, as he’ll be less prone to sun damage, but those with areas of pink skin are at risk of the same problems we are – sunburn, blistering and skin cancer.
You can take care of your horse’s skin by…
• providing shelter in the form of trees, hedges or field shelters. Remember to check that it is providing shade in the heat of the day and that the sun isn’t shining straight into it.
• putting on fly rugs and masks that block UV rays and provide a protective shield. Some masks have a panel over the nose that will cover a pink muzzle and leg wraps are available for horses with pink heels. Putting a UV-resistant fly rug or a fly spray with UV protection in it on a dark horse will help to protect his coat from bleaching.
• considering stabling your horse during the day when it’s really hot and sunny, and turning out at night avoiding riding during the hottest parts of the day.
• applying sunscreen to areas of pink skin. Special ones for animal use are available, but waterproof ones suitable for children are great, too, as they are usually a high factor and won’t wash off your horse’s nose as easily as normal sunscreen when he drinks or rub off when he’s grazing. If you don’t mind the colour, coloured sunblocks are great because they allow you to make sure you have all the vulnerable areas covered and you can see when it’s worn off.