Are you equine SPF-savvy?
Horses, like humans, benefit from sunshine, but too much can be harmful. Equine sunscreen is a great way to protect horses with pink skin.
If your horse has pink skin (most common with white hair), they’re at risk for sunburn with prolonged exposure. Look for a product that blocks UVB, UVA1, and UVA2 rays. Aim for a minimum of an SPF 15, with higher SPFs blocking more rays. You’ll need to reapply frequently for maximum effect, so consider pairing the sunscreen with a long-nosed fly mask or sun sheet.
Sunscreen for Horses – The Basics
The great news is that many of the sunscreens made for people can be safely used on horses. Some horses may have an allergy or a sensitivity reaction to the fragrances in them, so there are some made specifically for horses. Whichever product you choose, test it on their pasterns overnight first to check for any allergic reactions.
Why Might You Need Sunscreen for Your Horse?
Here are some reasons your horse may need a layer of sunscreen.
- If they have pink skin (anywhere with white hair)
- To protect from sunburn
- To protect from skin cancer
- To maintain a healthy coat
Some sunscreens also provide the added benefit of color fading protection. Even if your horse doesn’t have pink skin, a spray-on sunscreen can help protect against sun bleaching and leave your horse looking show-ready year-round.
When Might Your Horse Need Sunscreen?
Your horse is most at risk for sun damage between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your horse is white, gray, or has large patches of white, it may be best to keep them inside during these times. Anywhere your horse has pink skin should be protected when out during the day. Some horses may also need sunscreen in the winter (the sun reflecting off the snow can do more damage than you think).
|Sunscreen Option||Description||Price Point||Key Feature(s)|
|Sunflower Suncoat SPF||A conditioner, detangler, and sunscreen all in one||Low||Spray bottle, UVA + UVB protection, sun bleaching protection|
|Absorbine Santa Fe Coat Conditioner & Sunscreen||Designed by hair care professionals to shield and condition while providing non-slip protection||Low||Spray bottle, conditions and detangles, non-slip (safe for riding)|
|Equiderma Zinc Paste||A water-resistant sunblock and first aid treatment for scratches and sunburns||Low||Paste, 100% sunblock, helps heal dermatitis and sunburn|
Our Top Choices
Sunflower Suncoat SPF
This easy-spray sunscreen protects manes, tails, and coats from sun bleaching. It also protects against both UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients are perfect for horses with sensitive skin. Bonus feature: the spray helps repel mud and dust, making it easier to keep your horse clean.
We love that this product is free of any harmful chemicals or toxins.
- Protects coat color
- Conditions manes, tails, and coats
- Pleasant smell
- Not sticky
- Great for sensitive skin
- SPF 30
- Needs to be applied every few hours
- Can go through a lot quickly
Absorbine Santa Fe Coat Conditioner & Sunscreen
This product is specially formulated to not only provide sun protection but to condition, detangle, and add shine. It’s safe to use all over, even before tacking up, thanks to its slip-free formula. The addition of Vitamin E keeps your horse’s coat silky smooth.
We love that using this helps speed up the grooming process, as it shields against dirt and dust.
- pH-balanced formula
- Mane and tail detangler
- Coat fade protection
- Repels dirt and dust for a long-lasting clean
- Safe to use for riding
- Convenient spray bottle
- Have to apply differently as a conditioner than as a sunscreen
- Need to reapply every two hours for maximum effectiveness
Equiderma Zinc Paste
While this paste may be known as a go-to for treating problems like dermatitis, scratches, mud fever, dew poisoning, and sunburn, it’s also a fabulous sunblock.
It creates a water-resistant barrier for wounds and blocks 100% of the sun, meaning it’s perfect for horses with lots of turnout or who live outside.
- Can treat many conditions
- Stays on even in wet conditions
- 100% sunblock protection
- Perfect for white faces
- Paste stays on during turnout
- Excellent for sensitive skin
- The paste is thick
- Can be tricky to spread
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use human sunscreen on my horse?
You can! Look for one with both organic filters and inorganic blockers. Test some on your horse at night first to make sure they don’t have an allergic reaction. Choose one with minimal ingredients and no fragrances if your horse has sensitive skin.
Q: How do you keep a white horse from getting sunburned?
The best way is to keep him inside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Whenever he is turned out or ridden in the sun, apply sunscreen and use a fly mask/sun sheet. Turn him out someplace with ample shade (the more coverage the better).
Q: Do horses need UV protection?
Yes. Just like humans, horses’ skin is sensitive to UV rays. Covering them up with fly masks or sun sheets works, as does providing them with ample shade or applying sunscreen.
Q: Can you make homemade sunscreen for horses?
You can! Some horse owners go this route if their horses are very sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Be careful to appropriately balance the mix or it won’t work. Look for recipes with ingredients like carrot seed oil, raspberry seed oil, and zinc oxide.
Q: What is the best sunscreen for a horse’s nose?
Our favorite is zinc-oxide cream (lifeguards use this for their noses). It’s horse-friendly and can help heal blisters or skin irritations. Choose a sunscreen that’s waterproof or water-resistant for maximum staying power during turnout.
Next time you get ready to ride in the summer, don’t forget to apply a layer of sunscreen to your horse first. Their skin will thank you!
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