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Horses and the Solar Eclipse

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By Megan Arszman for

Horses and the Solar Eclipse

If you’re a fan of our social media, you may have seen our annual April Fool’s Day post.

In case you didn’t, it looked a little something like this:

Tough1 April Fool's Day joke horse solar eclipse glasses

JT International, the parent company of Tough1, is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and if you’re a Hoosier, you’ve been hearing a lot of talk about the total solar eclipse occurring on April 8, with a good portion of the state in the “Path of Totality.”

So, needless to say, the eclipse has been a hot topic.

We know humans are constantly warned to avoid looking directly at the sun and the eclipse, so we’re arming ourselves with NASA-approved glasses.

Just as with humans, the sun’s UV rays can cause some issues to your horse’s eyesight—it can cause or worsen diseases on the surface of the eye. This can include some cancers, inflammatory conditions and can possibly cause cataracts.

But do horses need eye protection from the eclipse?

The experts at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine say it simply:

“The simple answer is no. Unlike humans, animals aren’t overly fascinated with the phenomenon of the eclipse and won’t be inclined to stare at the sun for the sake of watching the eclipse. They instinctually don’t look at the sun because it hurts their eyes!”

The same goes for dogs and other animals outside, says Jerry Klein, the chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club in his interview with the Indianapolis Star.

While the darkness of the eclipse may cause humans to erupt in applause and excitement, it likely won’t bother your horse. If he’s outside grazing, he may just continue to graze.

Path of totality for 2024 solar eclipse
Image courtesy NASA

Will it Affect Their Behavior?

The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (ISBOAH) released a notice to horse owners with warnings for the eclipse. Bret Marsh, DVM, the Indiana State Veterinarian cautioned that “the sudden change in conditions can motivate unsafe and unpredictable behavior in the animals. As most owners know, horses, mules, donkeys and ponies can be unpredictable under some circumstances. Rapid darkness during daylight hours can disrupt animals’ normal behaviors. Horses observed in past eclipse events have been reported to become restless, shaking their heads and tails. Sometimes animals have been reported to stop moving or exhibit extreme behaviors.”

The ISBOAH advises horse owners to prepare for the eclipse:

  • Determine when the darkness of the eclipse period will begin in your area. For Indiana:
    • Darkening skies are predicted to begin as early as 12:45pm in Southwestern Indiana and as late as 1:52pm in eastern counties. The darkened period is predicted to extend to 4:23pm in some locations.
    • Total darkness will vary by location and can last up to 4.5 minutes.
  • Avoid traveling on roadways during the eclipse period.
  • Anyone on the roads when darkness begins should pull off the roadway and secure the horses when trailering.
  • Horse owners should ensure their animals are in a secure location, such as barn, paddock or tied, during the dark period. Even non-working animals may act unpredictably.

More details about the total solar eclipse in Indiana are online.

Other Safety Concerns
Experts strongly advises people not to be out on roadways in horse-drawn buggies or carts or riding horseback during the period of the eclipse.

The totally dark and low-visibility conditions present a danger to horses and riders because they may not be visible to motor vehicle operators. Areas of the country where the eclipse will be the most intense can expect to see high volume of vehicular traffic from visiting spectators trying to experience the eclipse—especially in rural areas.

If you’re in an area that has been sharing the excitement of the total solar eclipse, be sure you’re using approved solar glasses to enjoy this educational and monumental occasion.

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