By Sue Palmer
Melissa messaged me recently asking if I could fit her mare in for a physio session at short notice, because all of a sudden she seemed sore in her back. She sent me a video of the mare in ridden work, and all seemed well – ears pricked, forward going, level, even on both reins, and a good rhythm. She wasn’t objecting to being tacked up, or to being mounted, or to moving away from the mounting block, or to transitions up or down. But she seemed sore in her back when Melissa brushed her.
Thankfully (especially since my diary is very full!), Melissa found the source of the problem before we got to arranging a visit. It was sunburn on her mare’s back.
This is the first year I can remember where several of the horses I’ve seen have got sunburn on their backs. We all know it’s common on the nose, but I don’t know many riders who would check for sunburn on the back. Like with the noses, it’s the horses with pink skin that seem to be suffering, so in particular the coloured horses.
Most of us have suffered from sunburn ourselves at some point, and we know just how uncomfortable it can be! So if you think your horse seems a bit sore in his back when you brush him, or when you stroke along his back, and that’s not normal for him, consider sunburn as a possible cause.