Vanquish Your Horse’s Summer Skin Problems

Summertime’s heat, humidity, and insects can wreak havoc on equine hides. Here’s how to prevent or treat your horse’s summer skin problems.
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Woman grooming a horse with a brush.

A meticulous daily grooming is the best way to prevent skin conditions or catch them early.

Skin Issues in Hot Temps

It’s summer. Protect your horse’s skin against three main threats. 1. Sunburn. Especially if your horse has white areas, the skin underneath is vulnerable to UV rays. Know, too, that some plants (such as ragwort) can increase sun sensitivity. 2. Insect bites. Flies spread infection; Culicoides gnats can cause sweet itch—those small, itchy bumps your horse rubs into weeping scabs. 3. Rain rot (dermatophilosis). Warm, humid conditions can promote the microorganism that causes these crust-like scabs and matted tufts of hair that pull off easily. For solutions to all these potential problems, see at right.

[More On: Common Equine Skin Problems]

Stall fan.

Fanning Comfort

If you keep your horse inside a structure for part of the summer day, consider installing a barn-safe fan to circulate the air, afford cooling, and ward off flying pests.

Stalling may be helpful to:  

  • Provide shade and a respite from flies during the sun’s hottest hours.
  • Protect from Culicoides gnats during their prime feeding hours at dusk and dawn.
Three photos: left close-up of a horse's nose, middle horse wearing a fly mask, third product image of EquiShield CK shampoo.

Provide shade, apply UV sunscreens, use protective clothing (such as masks, at right).

[More On: Sun Protection]

Full-coverage masks and sheets can ward off UV rays as well as flies and other insects.

[More On: Fly Fighting Solutions]

Your veterinarian may recommend a broad-spectrum antimicrobial shampoo.

[More On: Microbes]

are tiny midges (just 1 to 3 mm long) that inflict painful bites. Also called “no-see-ums” or punkies, these gnats are poor flyers that can be deflected by electric fans.