How to prevent and treat Horse Sunburn
Summer means sun, and sun means sun burn, especially here in New Zealand, but also Australia, where the sun can burn the skin in only 10 minutes. We know this and we protect ourselves accordingly, but we don’t always consider that our horses might suffer from sunburn as well.
Horses burn similarly to the way that humans do – that is, the lighter the skin, the easier the burn. However, even if you have a fully black or bay horse, they are still susceptible to the harsh rays of the sun.
Sunburn is just as painful for horses as it is for humans, and shows up in much the same way – red, raw skin, hot and sore to the touch, which, if left untreated, can become flaky, cracked and may blister. Long term exposure to the sun and regular sun burn can also lead to cancer. Thankfully, we can prevent it in much the same way we prevent our own sunburn.
Stay out of the sun!
Some people stable their horses during the hottest hours of the day – however, this is only beneficial if your stable is well ventilated and cool. If you don’t or can’t stable your horses, which is the case for most people I think, try to make sure they have adequate shade – plenty of tree cover, a paddock lean-to or shelter.
Slip, Slop, Slap!
Just as it works for humans, it works for horses too!
Slip on a rug – a lightweight turnout combo offers maximum protection. Don’t forget that it’s hot as well – consider the weight and density of the rug, because your horse also needs to be cool.
Slop on some sunscreen – there are several horse sunscreens available, perhaps from your local tack store or feed shed. Otherwise, bust out the same sunscreen you use on yourself! Coloured sunblock is a great idea – they make it much easier to tell when your horse has rubbed some off or where you’ve already applied some.
Slap on a hat – or in this case, a fly veil. This is the best way of protecting your horses eyes and forehead (areas most susceptible) from sunburn. Several fly masks also come with muzzle flaps, which will help protect the sensitive, soft skin around your horse’s nostrils and mouth.
If your horse is already burnt, treat it similarly to the way you’d treat your own. Aloe sunburn treatments will immediately sooth your horse’s burn, and will help re-moisturize and heal your horses skin. But remember: prevention is always better than cure.
If you don’t want to put sunscreen on your horse there is a good remedy that can help protect sensitive skin or support your horse when the skin has already been burnt.
SOL 200C is the remedy of choice. Get the liquid form and just add about a capful to the trough. When your horse already has sunburn add it to the trough several days in a row, after that once a week is enough to protect and maintain a healthy skin and coat.
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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.