As the temperature rises, so does the song of the swarms! Flies, gnats, ticks, and other insects are not only a nuisance to horses, but can also spread disease, complicate wound healing, and contribute to loose and lost shoes via round the clock stomping. In order to fight the flies, we have to approach the issue from all angles. I find these three tactics effective in keeping my horses free from bothersome bugs!
Our first line of defense is to camouflage our horses from the flies. Common scents that repel these bugs include Citronella, Apple Cider Vinegar, Lavender, Clove, Thyme, Cinnamon, and Citrus. Most of the time fly sprays will be scented to deter flies from landing on our horses. I find Citronella, found in Pyranah Wipe N Spray, to be highly effective.
Being able to create a physical barrier between our horses and the flies can be a saving grace. Fly masks may be the single greatest invention to exist in pastures today. A well fitted fly mask will cover a horse’s eyes and ears to protect against bites. A good quality mask should breathe, be easy to see through, stay out of the horse’s eyes, and protect the horse from UV rays. My favorite fly mask is Noble Outfitter’s Guardsman Fly Mask. I find it effective and my horses find it cool and comfortable. Sun sheets and mesh leg wraps are also effective in blocking fly landings, and they can be useful for relentless stompers and horses who break out in hives.
When all else fails, I believe that it is our responsibility as horse owners to protect our horses from the relevant risks involved with insect bites. An effective fly control program has to work against every capacity that the bug attempts to bite a horse. If repellent deems unsuccessful, than hopefully the fly wants a spot on the horse where a mask covers, but sometimes it aims at a maskless spot. At this point, insecticides make the difference for the horse.
The most effective and long lasting insecticide, permethrin, is prevalent in Ultrashield fly spray . With insecticides, a fly may land on the horse, but it will quickly become dysfunctional and die off. This method can prevent bites and lower the fly population in an area.