Solar Eclipse PSA from Helix
A few words of wisdom from path of totality resident, Helix.
Yes, there is in fact a solar eclipse today, in case you somehow haven’t seen the special eclipse glasses for sale and the endless posts on social media about making sure you don’t stare directly at the sun even during totality (that’s when the sun is completely blocked by the moon — yes, you can still do a lot of damage to your eyes!).
One thing you also might have seen are endless rounds of viral postings of people warning each other to make sure they protect their animals’ eyes. Retina damage is retina damage, after all, and if you can actually burn your eyes by staring at the eclipse your beloved dog, cat, horse, tortoise, or whatever can do the same as well. “Keep your pets inside!” warns the meme. “Don’t let your pet’s eyesight be harmed.”
While the idea of toting your pet to your neighborhood eclipse-viewing party is SO 21st-century America, let’s keep in mind one important fact as far as your horses are concerned — they’re not likely to be staring up at the sun like you are.
The awareness and desire to gaze upon an eclipse is a distinctly human phenomenon. While there are plenty of anecdotal reports of animals acting strangely (birds may fall silent, believing it to be nighttime, while the famous orb-weaving spiders dismantle their webs), chances are most horses probably won’t have much of a reaction at all, even in the areas of totality. It’ll get a little dark, and they may start to react as though it’s nighttime — perhaps moving towards the barn like it’s time to come inside — but unless your horse habitually stares up at the sunset every night to watch day turn into twilight, you really don’t have a lot to worry about.
By all means, protect your horse’s eyes — a UV-blocking sun mask is always a good investment for summertime turnout. If you’re concerned about even the slightest chance that your particularly-sensitive steed might gaze up at the eclipse to observe the wonders of totality for himself, and it makes you feel better to protect him absolutely, keep him inside. But rest assured, your horse will most likely be concerned only with the next bite of grass, not the celestial wonder going on in the sky.
Happy and safe eclipse viewing, Horse Nation. Go riding!
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