Horse Sunburns 101

Being horse people, we spend a lot of time outside. As a result of that, we all know how painful those accidental sunburns on a warm summer day can be. While innocent, we all look back saying, “I knew better.” If we get burnt in one afternoon, imagine the sun our horses soak up while they’re out during these long summer days. Most horses are dark skinned, making it difficult to get sunburnt. However, horses with pink skin can suffer from very severe sunburns, burning and blistering their skin. We’ve compiled a list of some tricks to help minimize the risk of sunburn for your horses. 

Sunblock – The oldest trick in the book. The most common location for sunburn on horses is their noses. Because they are constantly grazing, it can be difficult to keep sunblock on. Regular applications to the nose is necessary, especially for horses outside all the time. As this is a never-ending issue in horses with pink noses, they have begun making bright-colored horse sunblock, making it easy to see from a distance if it has been rubbed off. While great during turnout, not really ideal for the show ring. Another alternative is baby formula sunblock. It is very gentle, making it safe to use on our horses.

Turnout plays a huge role in the risk of your horse getting sunburnt. If you have a horse prone to sunburn and access to a stall, it may be a good idea to stable them during the day, keeping them out of the sun when it is the strongest. If stabling isn’t an option, access to shelter and/or shade in the pasture is crucial. Horses have a good amount of common sense, and when necessary, they will stand in the shade, keeping them safe from the sun. 

In addition to sunblock, there are also many clothing options for horses who get sunburnt. Specifically for their nose, they make fly masks that come down below the nostrils, keeping the majority of their noses covered. Also, for horses with a lot of pink skin down their back, UV protectant fly sheets are available, keeping them safe in the summer sun.

While horses with a lot of white in their coats are beautiful, keeping them safe from the sun can be a chore. With the proper tools and knowledge, we can keep them safe and comfortable all summer, allowing us to get as much riding time in as possible!