Long days of riding, practicing, or competing in the sun can take a toll on your horse. So it’s important to adjust their care to counter the harmful effects of sun exposure.
If your horse lives or spends most of its day outside, provide it with relief from the sun by sourcing shade. If your pasture or paddock has trees (even if they’re simply adjacent but overhang the fenced area), check where their shade falls during the day. Midday is always the harshest, so that’s when you want to offer the most shade. If trees are absent or inadequate, you’ll want to provide a shaded shelter of some kind. A simple roofed structure of sufficient height and open access will do the trick. Just make sure it can accommodate as many horses as are usually in turnout at any one time.
Adjust Their Schedule
If your horse is typically in turnout for a good portion of their day, provide turnout during cooler hours. This will decrease sun exposure, keeping your horse more comfortable. While slightly adjusting your horse’s schedule is helpful, be mindful of how much it changes. Horses like routines. Too much change at one time can increase their stress.
Replenish Water and Electrolytes
Your horse should always have 10 – 15 gallons of fresh water. When the weather gets really hot, add in a salt block or provide electrolyte-laced water to aid in replenishing the electrolytes lost through sweating. You can go one step further by misting your horse’s hay with saltwater.
Sun protection is especially important for lighter colored horses and those with pink noses that can burn more easily. For total coverage. fly masks and fly sheets are perfect for eliminating the exposure of direct sunlight. They not only decrease the amount of sun on your horse, they also keep pesky insects at bay.
Make sure your horse’s outdoor exercise is the healthy occasion it should be. Protection from sun damage will ensure your horse stays happy, healthy, and performing at its best.