Do I need to do anything special for my horse’s eyes when I’m grooming him?
Yes!! The most important thing to do for your horse’s eyes is to pay attention to them on a daily basis. For one reason, and one reason only. Eyes don’t grow back. Luckily, most horses do a find job of staying out of trouble in the eye department.
Things to look for that are signs you need to call your Vet:
- Excessive eye rubbing. Horses will often rub their eyes on their knees, lower legs, you, the fence, a buddy, a bucket, a window, etc. when they have an ulceration or other eye irritation.
- More than normal discharge from the eye. This may, or may not, translate into more than normal crusty eye boogers. (Pardon the lack of technical term here. But you get the point).
Eye crust, drainage, "boogers" are all signs that something may not be right with your horse's eye. Remember - they don't grow back!
- Excessive eye watering.
- Swelling. Sometimes a bonk or cut around the eye can create swelling. Sometimes the actual eye can be injured. Often, it’s easiest to see swelling when you look directly at your horse’s face to compare eyes.
- Anything out of the ordinary.
Sometime eye problems are also signaled by head tossing and head tilting, also a great reason to call the Veterinarian. Also keep in mind that eye injuries hurt like mad. Eyes create major pain and are very risky to delay calling for help.
As far as day to day grooming is concerned, there’s very little need to curry comb and brush the eye area. More often than not, a simple wipe with a clean (dry or damp) towel is all that’s called for. I will sometimes use a damp towel to wipe away any eye crusts. I will also check for wayward eyebrow hairs. Like whiskers, eyebrow hairs tell your horse about his immediate surroundings. I generally leave these hairs alone, and will avoid clipping them during a body clip. I will, however, trim a stray eyebrow hair if it goes rogue and begins to poke at the eye. I have known several horses that have ONE crazy hair that needs some pruning every now and then.
During the warmer months when flies and bugs are seemingly everywhere, I like to use a little fly spray on my horse’s body and face. I will spray his body, but I always use a hand or towel to apply it under my horse’s eyes. Roll on fly products are great for that. If you apply a product above the eye, there’s a chance that sweat and gravity will conspire against your horse’s eye.
Watch out for pink skin patches - easy to sunburn!
I also love fly masks, and in most cases will use them year round. They protect eyes and noses from the sun, bugs, and dust.
Have you spotted an eye problem with your horse?