The authority for sports coverage in the Fredericksburg region.
Betsy Carter’s Horse Scene: A horse getting sunburned? It happens
SUMMER AND bright sunshine is wonderful. Unfortunately, sunburn sometimes comes with it. You can take care of yourself in that department, but your horse cannot. Therefore, it is your responsibility to protect or soothe your horse’s skin.
If your horse has white spots like a paint horse or has a white blaze or snip on his nose, it may be susceptible to sunburn. Some paints also have white hair and pink sensitive skin around the eyes, and that is a very painful area in which to be sunburned.
If you’re lucky and you have a gray or white horse that has black skin under the white hair, such as Arabian horses, then its skin will not burn. However, the pink skin under most white hair is sensitive, particularly the areas exposed to direct sunlight, such as the nose or anywhere along the back, from withers to tail. Areas of pink skin and white hair along the sides or legs on a horse rarely burn.
Prevention is the best cure for sunburn, rather than allowing your horse to suffer from the irritation and pain afterward. You could keep your horse out of the sun, but for many owners that is not practical. If you can keep your horse stalled during the sunniest part of the day, that is the best prevention.
So before you see that your horse is already sunburnt, it is best to start putting sunscreen on its skin. On areas without much hair, such as the nose or face, you can use the really gooey kind of lotion, such as zinc oxide ointments, which create a barrier against the sun’s rays.
Because these products are thick, they usually stay on longer, so you might not have to apply it every day if it’s not convenient to do so. Chemical sunscreens come in liquid or sprays and are easier to apply to areas of the body with more hair. These products filter out only specific light wavelengths, the harmful ones, allowing the rest to reach the skin. You may save yourself a lot of annoyance and your horse a lot of irritation if you choose a product made for sensitive skin or a product especially formulated for horses.
If your horse becomes sunburned, you should treat the burn just as you would your own sunburn. Aloe Vera is good for cooling and soothing the skin, and it is also usually gooey and thick so that it sticks to the wounded area better. Products with pain relievers such as benzocaine are good. However, the pain-relieving medication is usually not long-lasting. It may take weeks for the sunburn to heal, so once it happens it is a long project.
Obviously, if your horse is sunburned on his withers, it will probably be too uncomfortable to ride because the saddle will press on the withers, so prevention is the best solution. If your horse has sensitive pink skin around his eyes, you cannot put ointments there since they will melt into its eyes, causing further irritation. The only prevention is to turn the horse out in a fly mask especially made with UV filters in the mesh fabric.
June 13–17: Loudon at Upper Marlboro
June 16: Four Oaks; Coventry; United Show Series @ Sandstone; Sunrise Horse Trials and Combined Test: VADA/NoVA dressage at Frying Pan Park; BBHSA; VaApHC Trail Challenge at Andora Farm; Franklin County 4H Trailblazers.
June 16–17: Old Dominion POAC show.
June 17: Hazelwild; Speakeasy; South Run; BBHSA; Bedford County 4H.
June 18–23: Roanoke.
June 19: Woodpecker Pony show; TWA Jumpers at Culpeper.
June 20: Fox Chase; Picturesque.
June 20–24: Deep Run.
June 23: Summerplace; Bellemount; USS at Sunny’s Corner; Evergreen dressage; ShenVADA at Bright Moon Farm; Va. Palomino Show Chesterfield; Trail Challenge Clinic Cornerstone.
June 24: EKG; Moriah; Cedar Springs @ Warrenton; Summerduck; Homestead dressage.
June 26: Woodpecker Horse Show; Oakland Heights.
June 26–27: House Mountain.
June 27: Touch Point; Fox Chase.
June 27–July 1: Warrenton Pony Show.
June 29–July 1: VHSA Associate Summer Show at Deep Run.
June 30: Wavertree dressage; JCHSS dressage; Cedar Creek HT CT and dressage.
June 30–July 1: Looking Glass Farm dressage
Betsy Carter can be reached at The Free Lance–Star, 616 Amelia St., Fredericksburg, Va. 22401; or by fax at 540/373-8455.