Sunburns and Light Rides

Novels for Horse-Lovers

The Tipped Z Ranch books feature fictional stories but real horsemanship.

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I’ve never owned a Paint before, and when I was shopping for Steen I had no particular thought of getting a horse with color. In fact, when I went to look at Steen, I did so precisely because I didn’t think I would want him. I didn’t want a horse that was seven years old or a pinto of any kind. I just thought it would be a good idea to look at some horses I didn’t want.

Fast forward four years and as much as I love Steen, more often than not the white markings are a bit of a pain. They do get him a lot of compliments, but the hair that grows out of his white skin does not seem to insulate him very well, so he needs a blanket in the winter. In the summer, it doesn’t do much to protect him from the sun. Every skin problem he’s had has been on his white areas.

He’s had sunburns before, but they have always been minor. But this year almost all the pinto horses at the barn are suffering from major burn problems. Steen has done better than most, but he’s had two spots on his shoulders that have been getting a bit scorched. I’ve been treating them with a soothing aloe gel that has mostly kept them in check. But Saturday after I pulled him out of the pasture I saw things had reached a whole new level. His entire right side was just bright pink under his white hair. He didn’t seem super uncomfortable, but still, something needed to be done.

The other horses that have been burning have had success with fly sheets to keep them covered. As I’ve mentioned before, Iowa City is a desert of horse supplies of any kind, so I ended up calling all sorts of shops all over the state. Finally we found a shop in Grinnell that had a fly sheet that would fit him. But it was going to be a little too small, and it didn’t have a neck cover. Brian and I drove over on Saturday afternoon to get it. It’s a hideous blue, but I guess it will do the trick.

This morning we took the fly sheet with us and went to the barn, and I was dismayed to see the burn had worsened overnight. So, I spent a lot of time bathing Steen in cool water and smearing him in Thuja-Zinc gel. Then we put the fly sheet on and put him out in the pasture.

I’d been planning to ride Steen, but his skin was just too tender, so I rode Laredo instead. We had been at the barn for hours by then, though, and by the time we got mounted in the tree lot I was feeling pretty tired. Still, we had a good ride. Brian and I worked on backing circles around each other, then played cow for a while. I also did two short, straight lopes, and some trotting during which we worked on figure-eights and moving off the legs.

Ride Time: 0:50
Horseback hours YTD: 116:15

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