There are many different ways to help you keep flies off your favorite horse besides the most popular method—spraying fly repellent directly on his coat. Just visit a tack shop or feed store. There will be an entire section dedicated to fly control products! Take a few minutes to look at all of the sprays, roll-ons and spot treatments to see what’s available. You’ll probably find an easy-to use product that really works well on your horse. Let’s look at the different types of fly-control products on the market today.
Spray-on products are probably the most popular form of fly repellent. They can come in concentrate form which mixes with water in a spray container or they come ready-to-spray. There are so many spray repellents. You may have to try a few before you find one that really works on your horse. Be careful when using a spray repellent around your horse the first few times. He may not be used to being sprayed and he could spook. Avoid spraying your horse around his eyes or muzzle because repellent in these areas may irritate him. Some spray-on fly repellents contain extra ingredients like sunscreen to protect your horse from UV rays and moisturizers to make his coat shine.
These work like human deodorants. Pull off the cap and roll the fly repellent on to the horse’s skin. You can use roll-ons on sensitive horsey areas like the head and muzzle.
Treated turnout sheets and leg wraps
You can now buy fly sheets for your horse that have been treated with insect repellent. Most of these sheets will remain effective for up to 25 washings. These sheets are odorless and safe and no repellent will rub off on your horse.
Treated leg wraps may stop your horse from stomping while he tries to get rid of flies on his legs. These wraps are made of lightweight nylon mesh. Simply fasten them with Velcro closures. They usually have fleece at the top and bottom to prevent rubbing or chafing. Some brands of leg wraps claim to fight bugs for up to two years.
Feed through products
These are pellets that you mix into your horse’s feed every day. They contain a larvicide that doesn’t activate until it travels through a horse’s digestive system and passes out in his manure. Once the manure hits the ground, an ingredient in the larvicide begins working and kills fly larvae (young, wingless flies) in the manure.
Fly repellent ointments are thick and gooey. They are great to use around a horse’s eyes or to protect open wounds. Some ointments claim to kill flies on contact. You’ll need to apply ointments daily. Some come in wild colors like neon pink or yellow.
Lotions and creams
Fly repellent lotions and creams are ideal for using on sensitive horsey spots, such as around the eyes, ears and muzzle. They are also good to use around wounds to keep flies away. You generally apply a lotion or cream with a clean rag. You can also use an applicator mitt that you slip on your hand.
Snip off the top of the tube and apply a spot on treatment to several areas on your horse. Spot on treatments are absorbed into a horse’s body and then they repel flies from his head to his hooves. They do not wash off with sweat or rain and most spot-on treatments claim to last 14 days. Spot-on treatments are very easy to use.
Treated leg and neck bands
These are plastic bands which have been treated with natural fly repellent ingredients. Snap the collar around your horse’s neck and fasten the leg bands on his legs. These bands should keep flies away from your horse’s face and legs for up to two months.
These are towelettes that are pre-moistened with fly repellents. Just open the plastic container, pull out a sheet and then wipe your horse with it. Some towelettes come in individual packets so you can slip one in your pocket and take it with you on a trail ride.
Fly predators are a natural alternative to sprays. They are tiny insects that love to eat the eggs of pesky flies, but don’t bother horses or humans. You order the predators and then sprinkle them on the muck heap when the weather turns warm and the predators will get to work eating fly eggs. In the summer, you release the fly predators once a month to keep down the fly population.
These are fly repellents that are sprayed out in a fine mist around a barn to keep the fly population down. You can mix it up yourself by mixing a concentrated fly repellent to water and then spraying it around the barn or you can buy automatic dispensers that you hang around the barn. Automatic misters or dispensers usually release a fine spray into the air every 15 minutes. This mist helps to keep bugs at bay. Bigger barns may have electric misting systems, but you can buy small, battery-operated misters.
These are plastic containers that attract flies and then trap them inside. Some traps can catch more than 10,000 flies! Once the trap is full simply toss it in the garbage. You can hang these traps all around the barn.