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Sun Protection for Equestrians: How to Stay Safe

equestrian sun protection
Written by Andrea Parker

Sun Is Good, But Not Too Much

Having grown up with a mum who was a nurse and a dad who had several skin cancers removed, sun safety was in the air that I breathed. So it came as a bit of a shock to me when I found out that women not much younger than myself didn’t realise that tanning was in fact dangerous.

As a kid, I was riding in long sleeved shirts, an oh so trendy mushroom visor on my helmet, and ‘skin’ coloured zinc—which was so thick that it was nearly impossible to remove.

Despite this, I remember vividly getting out of the shower after a competition once and finding that I had some sunburn on my cheeks. Mum used to get so upset if my brother or I got sunburnt, so upon seeing some of mum’s foundation on the bathroom bench I quickly dabbed it on in an effort to hide the sunburn. [Parents can be scary.]

My fellow Aussies who grew up in the 90’s will be well aware of the slogan, ‘slip, slop, slap, seek, slide,’ which formed the basis of sun safety messaging at the time. This message is important because most skin cancers are caused by sun exposure! So if you are spending large amounts of time outdoors, that’s you my fellow equestrians, then you need to be following these simple steps to stay safe in the sun.

Seek – Shade

The first recommendation is wherever possible to seek shade. Stay indoors during the hottest hours of the day where sun is most intense. When you are outside opt for places where you are in full shade (If I had a dollar for every time my mum or dad and now I rejected a cafe seat because it was not adequately shaded, I’d be rich).

Remember that these sun safety rules aren’t just for sunny days. On overcast days the UV index can be just as high if not higher than days when it is sunny. The UV index is a measure of ultraviolet radiation which is produced by the sun and contributes to cancer. You can check the UV index on the Cancer Council of Victoria’s SunSmart app.

Slip – Long Sleeve Shirts

A long sleeved high collar is an absolute necessity. I vividly remember being a tween at pony club and being so excited for the sun to go down at night rallies so I could switch out of my long sleeved shirt and be cool like the other kids!

Back in those days it was thick heavy polo’s or extremely daggy [uncool] old business shirts. Fortunately now there are so many beautiful and flattering long sleeved shirts that I am always excited to put them on. My two current favourite brands for sun shirts are Kastel Denmark and HLH Equestrian Apparel.

Both are lightweight and breathable and I can guarantee you’ll feel much cooler wearing these than having the sun on your skin. I particularly love the HLH Equestrian Apparel base layers, as the sleeves fully cover your wrists. Bye bye burnt wrists and watch tan!

Slap – Broad Brimmed Hat

Broad brimmed hats were something that I grew up wearing and I HATED them. I always felt extremely daggy. Until a couple of years ago, when I returned to the broad brimmed hat for good with my beloved Akubra Rough rider hat.

The broad brim is important for shading your face and keeping the sun off the delicate skin around your eyes. The Cancer Council specifically advises that caps and visors do not provide adequate protection.

Slop – Sunscreen

Sunscreen is an essential part of everyone’s daily routine. The Australian cancer council recommends the use of sunscreen that carries a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.

I apply sunscreen under my makeup, including on my neck and arms. I’ve recently started using the Cancer Council Face Day Wear moisturiser matte sunscreen. It is light and soaks into the skin without any greasy residue. I’ve also used, and loved, the Ultaceuticals sunscreen which has a similar feel to the Cancer Council Face Day Wear, but is at a higher price point.

On days when I know that I will be outside for long periods of time, such as competition days, I switch out my normal foundation for the IT Cosmetics Your Skin, but betterCC+ cream SPF 50+. This foundation gives medium to full coverage which does not budge.

And of course don’t forget your lips! If you are like me and don’t often wear lipstick, it’s easy enough to do. But your lips are in fact skin and need to be protected as much as any other part of your skin. The Pinkeyes Nude lip gloss by Go To skin care is my favourite as it is nourishing as well as adding just the right amount of colour.

Slide — On Sunglasses

The last part of sun safety is slide; for putting on your sunglasses. Did you know that your eyes can be harmed by the sun just as much as your skin can? The combination of close fitting wrap around sunglasses along with a broad brimmed hat provide optimal protection for your eyes.

When choosing sunglasses you should ideally select a pair that have large lenses, wrap around your face, and have a sun protection factor of 2 or more under the Australian Standard AS/NZS 1067:2003.

Remember the Slogan

Even if you are too young to remember the 90’s,‘slip, slop, slap, seek, and slide,’ you should follow these five sun safety tips every day in order to look after your skin.

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About the author


Hey, I'm Andrea Parker, an adult amateur dressage enthusiast on a remarkable journey with my 13-year-old mare, Mon Ami. Delving into the equestrian world, I recount the highs and the hurdles on my blog, The Sand Arena Ballerina. I'm also passionately working on crafting an equestrian podcast titled Equestrian Pulse.