Flies are inevitable nuisances of summer, which leaves horse owners wondering how to keep flies off horses in peak season. The two best methods are population management and horse protection. Fly masks, like those made by Cashel Company, are a chemical-free way to protect your horses from flies, but if you have an escalating fly problem, it might be necessary to try some other techniques. With proactivity and diligence, you can fly-proof your place and protect your horse, ensuring that he’s comfortable all summer.
Keep fly populations at bay by managing the places they like to rest and breed. Areas with moisture, such as water and manure, are attractive places to lay eggs. Reduce proximity to and prevalence of still water and manure piles around horse-occupied areas to avoid the barn becoming a fly hangout.
Stagnant water, such as decorative ponds and over-watered pastures, are havens. When possible, avoid overwatering. Garlic is a natural fly repellent. Place it around still-water features to repel mayflies. An underwater propeller placed in a pond can also be used to create current that’s unsuitable for egg-laying flies.
It’s hygienic to keep manure away from horse living areas anyway, but this is especially important during fly season. Flies congregate around manure, so clean stalls and turnouts regularly, and move larger manure piles away from arenas, barns, and runs. Fly predators are another way to decrease breeding and population growth. They’re natural enemies of flies, and can be sprinkled on manure piles monthly to reduce presence of larvae.
Even the most diligent horse owner encounters flies around the barn, tack room, and arena. To combat this, hang sticky non-insecticidal flypaper from stall ceilings or in barn alleyways to lure and catch flies. Or, make DIY, homemade flytraps to set around the barn. Flies also don’t like wind, so safely-placed fans in the barn walkways that direct and circulate airflow will deter them.
To protect your horse from existing flies, use fly repellent and protective gear. These act as your horse’s first line of defense against irritation and fly-borne illness.
Before you ride, spray areas uncovered by your saddle with fly repellent to keep flies off your horse as you ride. As your horse sweats, flies will gravitate toward the smell and moisture; you’ll notice them buzzing when you stop. Also, be mindful of long rides in fly-prevalent areas, such as shady or lakeside trails, and pack a small supply of fly spray for protection on the go.
Use fly spray after riding and before turnout, and don’t forget the face. Spray into your hand and wipe his face or use roll-on repellent. If you prefer natural fly spray to store-bought, create your own DIY fly repellent. While you can find many recipes online, check that the ingredients are safe for use in fly spray for horses.
Because many store-bought and homemade fly repellents only protect for up to a few hours, protective horsewear is a must. A well-fitted fly mask, like Cashel Company’s Crusader Fly Mask, keeps bugs out of horses’ eyes. Cashel Company also offers masks with ears for added protection. And lightweight protective fly sheets and boots, also part of Cashel Company’s line of fly protection products, play the dual role of pest protection and sunblock, as many have built-in UV technology.