Summer has seemed to come early here in Oklahoma, and with it come changes in my riding program. I get up earlier to ride, I usually hose my gelding off after exercising, and we fly spray like crazy! I did not, however, anticipate any issues that would affect our riding.
As soon as the sun started to peek out and dazzle us with its warmth, I started noticing an odd habit my horse had developed. He would toss his nose in the air repeatedly while riding. He’d also blow air through his nose. At first I thought he was just being grumpy and even disobedient so I would discipline him with a bump on the reins every time he would start tossing. This clearly only annoyed and confused him, so I eventually would get off and just longe him or work on showmanship. The head tossing made riding pretty much impossible, as he wouldn’t focus on the task at hand.
I started to try and pare down the reasons he could be doing this by starting with tack issues. We usually ride in a Myler shanked bit, so I switched to a plain snaffle. No change. We tried a different headstall setup. No change. I removed the curb strap. No change. Dumbfounded, I trudged back to the barn and decided to do a thorough examination of the area. Sure enough, Hot Rod’s nose was bright pink and had tiny scabby blisters on the white streak that runs down one side of his nose. The poor guy was sunburned, and pretty bad at that. I immediately apologized for getting on to him so many times. I applied a cream to ease the discomfort and then headed inside to scour the internet for tips on horsey sunburns.
Hot Rod now has a strict sunblock regimen every day and he also gets to wear a fancy fly mask that extends way down past his nose. He hates it. I’m hoping that he thanks me in the future and our riding sessions will continue on as normal.