Sun safety tips for Sunguarding Sport

Friday, 29 April 2022

Today marks the start of Sunguarding Sport, a new campaign by the Melanoma Fund. The campaign looks to educate and raise awareness of sun protection to all in sport and outdoor recreation. It provides guidelines, sport-specific advice and a toolkit of downloadable materials, designed to be shared to participants, spectators, and officials, by organisations, groups and clubs. 

Most of us could improve our sun protection habits, so we've worked with the Melanoma Fund to put together some top tips to protect you and your horse as we head into summer.

Protecting yourself... 

  • UV radiation cannot be seen or felt, so check the UV index daily, and use sun protection when it reads three or over.
  • Get into the habit of applying sunscreen before being active outdoors. Choose a broad-spectrum product with an SPF of 30 or higher, and pay special attention to your ears, nose and other areas prone to burning.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are prone to excessive sweating, in or out of water, or simply working hard. 
  • The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so, if possible, try to plan a ride outside of these hours on particularly hot days.
  • As well as protecting your head, your riding hat also provides a degree of sun protection. At other times, opt for a baseball cap to shade your face. 
  • Wearing gloves will provide sun protection for your hands – choose a lightweight or mesh style to keep cool. 
  • Keep a bottle of sunscreen in the tack room so there's always some on hand if needed.
  • Wear clothing that covers your arms – compression sleeves are a good alternative if you find long-sleeves too hot.
  • Using a sunscreen applicator, or cleaning your hands with a small towel and alcohol gel, is a good way to avoid a greasy grip on the reins.
  • Hydration is essential in reducing the risk of overheating, so keep a bottle of water on hand and sip regularly.
  • Wearing wraparound sunglasses when riding will help protect your eyes .
  • When not actively riding and during breaks, make sure to rest in shaded areas to reduce your exposure to the sun.

Protecting your horse... 

It is easy to forget that horses are also prone to sunburn, particularly those with thin coats or light-coloured skin. Follow these tips to ensure that your horse avoids sunburn.

  • Apply sunscreen to the muzzle and any areas of pink skin on your horse.
  • Zinc-oxide cream is safe for horses and helps heal any skin irritation or blistering. You can generally also use any sunscreen product on the market for people, such as those containing PABA, on your horse, but consider a patch test before full application.
  • The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so, if possible, limit turnout between these hours, especially if the UV index is high.
  • Ensure your horse has access to shade during the day.
  • Consider riding early in the morning or late in the evening, particularly on clear, sunny days.
  • Cover sensitive areas with a fly mask. This will prevent sunburn around a horse's eyes, and you could choose one that includes a nose need for added protection. A fly rug can also be useful.

Find out more about the Sunguarding Sport campaign by visiting the Melanoma Fund website