Springtime means back to riding and enjoying your horses, without the misery of the cold! It also means many annoyances for us and the horses!
Flies are one of the most annoying insects. They are a nuisance and more than that, they cause our horses to become dangerous at times. The horse can get so annoyed with the flies, that they are stomping and kicking and tossing their head just to get away, not aware of their surroundings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been busted in the mouth or almost kicked because a horse is trying desperately to rid themselves of these annoying creatures!
The worst part I have noticed is that fly sprays no longer seem to work like they did in the past. There are hundreds of brands and different sprays, ranging in price from $6.00 to $60.00, but they all seem rather short lived. Some don’t even seem safe, claiming to last up to 7 days, even through rain and sweat! These are oil based, but I hesitate to put chemicals on my horse, let alone the ones that stay on that long.
Then, there is the option for fly sheets, masks, leg and tail wraps, making your horse look like he’s ready for a nuclear war in his hazmat suit!
There are feed through fly control products, sulfur blocks, and home remedies like putting vinegar in your water buckets and tanks. Yuck! I’d say most horses would think you really have gone mad if you put vinegar in their water.
I believe it is a combination of things that help control flies. Keeping manure cleaned up and in a well maintained manure pile, well away of where your horses reside, will do wonders for fly control! You can even top that by adding fly predators to your manure pile, this is extremely effective. Diatomaceous earth is also a good way to dry your manure pile faster and keep larvae from surviving the hatching stage. You can sprinkle it on each layer of manure and just reapply after a rain. Flies breed in wet conditions, so keeping the surroundings as dry as possible will help also.
Finding an all-natural spray that works is difficult, but if you pair that with other control methods, it seems to work well. Hanging fly strips and putting out fly traps are also a good way to draw those pesky flies away from your horse’s legs.
In general, if your areas are kept clean and dry, manure is managed, and you add the few other little things to help control flies, they will be minimized and maybe not so pesky. Start early in the season, minimizing them as quickly as possible will help control the population. And if you know of any other little tricks, do let us know. We’re always looking for safe alternatives that help keep our horse friends as happy as possible!