With the hot season quickly approaching and those long days of summer, it's important to think about sun protection for your horses. Horses can suffer from sunburn and the fact is ultraviolet sun rays can harm your horse's health just as they can impact our own. Horses are particularly prone to sunburn around their muzzle and eyes. In fact, squamous cell carcinomas are common around the pink of horses' eyes that have spent a good deal of their time in the sun. By understanding the risks, you can take precautions to prevent sunburn for your horses and better protect their health.
Sun shades are typically a one-time investment that can protect your horse(s) from direct sunlight. On the hottest days, your horse is going to be more comfortable when out of the sun. If your horse's health is already compromised in some way, a sun shade is a must. Essentially, a sun shade is simply an open-air roofed structure. The roof may be held up by posts or poles. It needs to be durable, of course, to hold up to the weather and even frolicking horses, but it is definitely an investment in the upkeep and health of your horses.
Similarly, it can help to site your horses near tall trees if possible. This natural shade can help screen the animals from the intense sunlight and leave them feeling comfortably cooler on extremely hot days.
Although some horse owners will use sunscreen products designed for humans on their horses, there are commercial products available that are specially formulated for our equine friends. Many veterinarians will recommend an SPF 20 sunscreen that can be used on the horse's nose, ears, and elsewhere on its face. Keep in mind that there are also products on the market that combine sunscreen with healing properties for horses that already have sunburn. You can soothe your horse's sunburn while protecting it from further damage at the same time.
Equine Sun Visor
You can also attach an equine sun visor to your horse's head to ensure it covers the eyes and much of the facial region. When outfitted with a debris shield, these visors will protect your horse's eyes from harmful UV rays and also provide protection from dust, debris, rain, and even pesky insects that are particularly bothersome to horses during the hot weather. Keep in mind that these visors will not cover the ears or muzzle, so you'll still need to use them in conjunction with sunscreen.
To protect areas on your horse's body, consider looking for a grooming spray that contains sunscreen. Many fly sprays even come formulated with sunscreen to provide your horse with more comprehensive protection. UV body wraps are another option for horses with no shade throughout the day.
Of course, your best bet is to keep your horses shaded during the sunniest part of each day during the summer season. Protecting your horses from sunburn takes diligence as they are apt to roam from their sun shades. Keep your horses cool and protected by using these methods of sun protection.