Hello Weekend: The Sun-Kissed or Bleached Horse

Let's face it, we all love the sun and many parts of the country, this summer is exceptional!   Horses, in the paddock and fields, enjoy their time as they lie soaking up the rays.  Those rays, while we all enjoy it, can be very damaging to our skin and our horse's coat.  But, there are many things that we can do to minimize the sun's impact.

Parched coats are vulnerable to getting burned.  Most sun-bleaching is perpetuated by agents that dry the coat which maximizes damage.  The most common causes are salt, mud and petroleum products.


Salt from sweat and dirt from mud draw out natural moisture and oils from the horse's coat.  Epsom salt soaks can pull out an abscess or clean a deep wound.  Poultice is a mud pack we use to pull heat and swelling out of legs.  Left on the coat, salt and dirt deplete moisture.  Salt (sodium chloride) is also a very common additive in horse shampoos.

While the skin's natural oils protect the horse from elements and irritation, synthetic ones can burn and suffocate the hair.  Hair not only gets bleached, but also brittle.  Many products marketed to repel bugs, create a shine, and detangle are petroleum-based.  Instead of using those products, use ones that promote the coat's resilience and the hair's strength.

The best strategy is to enhance your horse's own defences.  His coat's natural oils protect hair and skin.  The very best thing you can do to improve your horse's coat is to curry it vigorously every day.  This not only rids it of damaging salt and dirt, but also brings oils to the surface and exfoliates to release them.

Be discerning when buying products.  Some products make claims that are not realized.   Shampoos that strip natural oils not only take away the shine, but stripping the oils actually leads horses to get dirtier.  Spray on shine can never simulate a deep-layered glisten, nor rich colour.  Over time, some detanglers can make hair very brittle.  Look for detanglers and conditioners that contain ingredients to help strengthen the hair.

Shampoos should specify:  pH balanced for horses, otherwise, they will be difficult to rinse and likely leave a film that attracts drying sun and dirt.

Soft brushing and towelling facial skin makes it shine.  If needed, human sunscreen can prevent pink muzzles from burning.

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