The warm weather is upon us, and soon it’ll be hard to remember the days of bundling up in coats to go ride. But although I’ll never stop enjoying the feeling of being on horseback with the sun on my face, sun protection is one of the most important aspects of our sport.
We spend loads of time outside facing the elements, and protecting ourselves from harmful rays can help protect against cancer, sunburn, and premature aging. Here’s 5 simple ways you can enjoy the sun without feeling the burn!
- Wear long sleeves
I know, the last thing you want to do is put on long sleeves when it’s boiling hot. But if you need to ride in peak sunlight hours, covering up is the best thing you can do for your skin.
If you invest in a lightweight, breathable material then you’ll be comfortable and protected. In fact, if you’re in the sun (not the shade) then research suggests that your skin actually stays cooler when it’s covered than when it isn’t. That’s basically because the fabric absorbs heat, rather than your skin absorbing it.
- Choose UV protect fabrics
Fabrics which offer UV-protection give you an extra layer of defense against the sun. UPF fabrics work in similar ways to sunscreen. However, sunscreen SPF refers to protection against only UVB rays, which are the ones responsible for sunburn. UPF fabrics must protect against both UVA and UVB radiation.
It’s the tight weave between strands in UPF fabric which stops the sun’s rays from reaching your skin. This not only reduces your risk of sunburn, but also of developing skin cancer related to sun exposure.
The Horze Trista shirt is long sleeved, made in a technical fabric for breathability, and is UPF30+. There’s no need to sacrifice comfort or style for sun protection.
- Don’t cut costs on sunscreen
Sunscreen is one of those skincare products where it really is worth spending what you need to in order to get the best protection. A good sunscreen not only protects you from sunburn, but also helps to offer protection against wrinkles, pigmentation, and skin cancer.
You may need to invest in a separate sunscreen for your face and your body (although, see above about wearing long sleeves!). The right choice is completely down to your activities and skin type. However, you should look for a high SPF and broad spectrum protection, which means that you’re protected against both UVA and UVB rays.
When it comes to facial sunscreen, many people like something quick-drying and with a matt finish so that you’re not oily. Make sure that whatever one you choose works for your skin type and won’t sweat off when you start sitting that trot in the heat!
- Try and avoid strong sunlight
It isn’t always possible to stay out of strong sun when you’re riding in summer, which is why you need all the protection methods detailed above!
If you have the option though, try to ride and do any related barn chores outside of 10am-4pm. When the opportunity does present itself to ride early or late, try to take it and stay in the shade or indoors for peak hours. You’ll find it much less stifling anyway, and might even find that your horse works better in the cooler weather.
- Don’t forget the horses!
And my final tip is for the horses! If you have a horse with pink skin then you’ll need to take extra precautions. Lather their noses up with sunscreen during the day, and invest in a fly mask; ideally one with a nose piece. If they’re particularly sensitive, you can even use a light fly sheet to help with insects as well as the sun’s rays. The Fairfax sheet even has UV protection built in!
Summer is one of the most enjoyable times to enjoy your horses. The days are longer, warmer, and the show season is usually underway too. Get out there and enjoy the sunshine while absorbing some Vitamin D – but remember to do it safely and with the right precautions. And remember, always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
What are your best sun protection tips? Share them with us in the comments.