When the warmer weather approaches, horse owners breathe a sigh of relief as the muddy paddocks start to dry up and an evening hack looks like a far more pleasant prospect. However, with the warmer temperatures comes the unwelcome arrival of a horse’s most annoying nemesis – the fly.
Horses are plagued by a variety of flies, the most common being the black fly that it swatted by tails and shook away, but there are the most troublesome types such as horse flies and midges that cause huge bites and skin irritation. Some horses are more sensitive to bites than others, and these bites can result in long term skin conditions, infections and considerable discomfort for your horse. Here we offer you five tried and tested methods to help keep your horse fly free this season.
Nature designed our equine friends with a fabulous forelock, mane and tail to assistwith the swattingof flies, however, some are blessed with a more mane than others. An easy way to give your horse a helping hand is to add a fly fringe to his head collar and bridle to help keep his eyes free of flies.
Nature knows best when it comes to repelling unwanted bugs and there are several naturally growing herbs that are proven to repel flies. Plant bay, basil, citronella, eucalyptus, garlic, lavender, mugwort, rosemary, sage around your stable yard for a natural fly deterrent with no insect immunity.
There are copious amounts of fly repellent products available off the shelf, but why not make your own fly spray with 1 tbsp eucalyptus oil, 1 cup water, 2 cups white vinegar and 1 cup Avon Skin So Soft bath oil which contains the plant ingredient coumarin that naturally repels flies. Tea tree oil is another natural fly repellent that can be used, but ensure it is diluted before applying to the skin and always test a small area for sensitivity first.
Stabling just before dusk can provide much needed relief to horses, especially those who are particularly sensitive to midge bites as they are most active at dawn and dusk. Keeping your horse in a cool, well ventilated stable during these times will greatly reduce the frequency of bites while also allowing sore skin the chance to heal without incurring further bites or developing an infection.
Move your muck heap
Nothing attracts flies faster than a steaming pile of manure, and although a muck heap is a necessity in a busy yard its position can be changed to suit both you and your horse. To avoid unnecessary spillages on a long walk you will need to have a muck heap relatively close to your stables, however, if possible, keep it a good distance from the yard, preferably downwind and in a walled area to prevent flies from wandering across to your horse.