So, how do you handle a horse that has been sunburned? My suggestion would be to prevent the sunburn in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure, after all. But, I ask how to handle a horse that has been sunburned, didn't I? If the horse only has burns on a small area, such as it's nase, the best thing that I have found to treat it, is a cheap Vitamin E cream that is in the lotion aisle at Wal-Mart. It is like, less than $2.00 for 4 ounces, and you use it sparingly, so it lasts a while. If the horse has large areas, you will have to resort to one of the methods of prevention that I'm about to describe, and wait for the burns to heal.
Methods of Sunburn Prevention:
- Stall kept - If you have access to stalls, you can put the horse up during the majority of the daylight hours. Like us, horses get Vitamin D from sunlight, so they do need to be turned out some during the day to soak it up. The downfall to this method, is that some horses become hot when being kept in a stall for long hours.
- Sunscreens - Yes, they actually make sunscreen specifically for horses. As you can imagine, it is expensive, like the majority of products marketed for horses. You apply it to the white areas of the horse, with a sponge that greatly resembles the one that some women use to apply make-up. The stuff appears to be mostly Zinc Oxide, you can tell where it has been applied. It will sweat off, so it will have to be applied every morning. I would just as soon, go buy a sunscreen that is sweat resistant with a SPF of >50, and use that.
- Bug sheets and Fly masks - Some of the bug sheets marketed provide some UVA/UVB protection, but not all of them, and the majority of the fly masks do. Depending on where you live, your horses may bet a little warm usung this option.
- Feed - The only feed that I know of that will prevent sunburn, is Purina's Omolene 200. My paint mare is probably 80% white, and lives in a 16 acre pasture 24/7. She has not had a sunburn in years, except for when I changed her feed to Purina's Strategy. Within two weeks she was burnt to where she didn't want to be touched. I switched her back to the Omolene 200, and in about a week, she was good to go. I even asked my vet if he had any other customers that had noticed this particular side effect of the 200. He said that no one else had, but that it was likely due to some vitamin or mineral in the feed that reduced the sensitivity to the sun. After I figured it out, anytime someone talks about their horses getting a sunburn, I tell them to switch their feed to Omolene 200.