SUNBURN:? you'll recognize it first as bright pink skin, but it can worsen to the point of developing scabs. To combat this, use a sun-block product.? Generic zinc oxide will work (like the white nose on lifeguards), but it quickly melts off, leaving the horse unprotected. Instead, consider using the human product Banana Boat SPF 30 or, better yet, the My Pony Sun Block (www.myponysunblock.com, 480-474-1022).? it's mainly zinc oxide and titanium, and we found that one application will get your horse through the day. A medium 4.5 oz. jar costs $21.
If He's already been burned, we recommend soothing the area with clear aloe vera gel.
Fly masks with long nose pieces will help block a lot of sun, too. We suggest the Cashel Crusader (www.cashelcompany.com, 800-333-2202).
BITES, CUTS, IRRITATIONS: Small cuts and scrapes can become big problems quickly, if you let the flies and bugs get involved.? For the everyday wounds, we like SWAT (www.farnamhorse.com, 800-234-2269). it's available in clear or pink, and it's a healing ointment with just enough fly repellent in it to discourage bugs but not enough to harm the wound. Again, aloe vera gel is also a good soothing product for dry, cracked, irritated skin.
WORKING IN HEAT: Your horse needs to be well hydrated, just as we do, and the thing that triggers thirst is salt. Plus, the more he sweats, the more electrolytes he loses (mainly sodium, potassium and chloride) and these nutrients need to be replaced through diet.
Always provide your horse with free-choice salt, either in the form of a brick or block, or just loose in a separate bucket or area (stall ledges work great for this) where he can eat what he wants. You can also add plain table salt to the horse's feed. The minimum amount of salt a horse at maintenance should consume in a day is 1 ounce or about two tablespoon.? Horses working up to two hours per day will need two ounces of salt.? If your horse is working over two hours, you should consider adding a good commercial electrolyte. Be sure it doesn't contain sugar.
COOLING YOUR HORSE: By now, we're sure no one will dispute the fact that it's OK to hose off your hot horse (it was proven prior to the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics).? Hose the horse's underbelly and groin areas, too. Be sure you scrape off the water that sits on his coat quickly, as it heats up and keeps him warm.? Hosing doesn't eliminate walking him, of course, but it's important to quickly get his body temperature down.? You can also allow him to drink water while you're walking him.? (don't use a cooler. Contrary to its name, it's actually designed for cooling your hot horse in cold weather, where he might catch a chill as his body temperature regulates).
It really all comes down to common sense. If you're too hot, your horse is hot, too. Be considerate of his physical condition and choose riding times during the cooler temperatures of the day.
Article by Contributing Farrier Lee Foley.