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The Importance of Equine Fly Control

Horse in pasture wearing a fly sheet

Since flies don’t stop at a fence line, it’s important to know how to control them before things get out of hand. In this blog, we’ll give you the techniques you need for optimal fly control. Fortunately, there are several options available to take care of these irritating pests.

You may choose more than one option. Some horses need combinations to keep flies at bay. As the summer season quickly approaches, flies will become more active. Since so many control methods are available, you have lots of options for your equine fly control.

Eye protection with fly masks

Some horse owners may not think it’s necessary to use fly masks. Many hate dealing with the stubborn horse that always seems to find a way to get the mask off. How do you even know where to start when looking for a fly mask?

Fly masks can make your horse more comfortable. We humans can always wave flies away, but horses have a harder time getting rid of them. These masks can also protect your horse from infections like conjunctivitis. Fly masks keep the horse’s eyes guarded against sunburn from harmful UV rays. If your horse is especially sensitive to wind and sun, it’s even more crucial to use a fly mask for added protection.

Granted, picking a fly mask may seem like a difficult task. No two horses are the same, so you should keep your specific equine in mind. Jeffers carries a wide variety of fly masks in numerous styles with plenty of features. You can get a full mask for horses with more white markings and a pink nose. For those beauties, we have the WeatherBeeta ComFITec FINE Mesh Fly Mask w/Ears & Nose.

If you have more thin-skinned horses that don’t like anything rubbing their faces, you might opt for the Jeffers Lycra Fly Mask. This one has no itchy velcro, which makes it one of the most comfortable mask options. If you want a more reinforced fly mask, Jeffers also has the Rambo Plus Fly Mask w/Ears. It’s well-structured around the eyes to prevent the mesh from pushing into the eyes and rubbing the skin.

Applying fly spray: Questions to ask before buying

One option some horse owners look at first is using a fly spray. Before you head out and buy the first product you find, there are some things you need to think about. Let’s look at what you need to know to buy the best fly spray for your horse.

What are the ingredients? You want the combination of ingredients to be effective. Are you leaning toward a more natural product? If so, essential oils in the ingredient list will help keep flies away.

How often should you spray? Using a spray to control flies is not a one-and-done deal. If you’re not able to reapply it often, you should opt for an oil-based spray because those typically last longer. Many sprays claim to last up to 14 days, but this would be highly unrealistic in regular weather conditions. Most fly sprays last for 2 to 3 days so frequent applications are crucial to protect your horses. If you’re using a water-based spray you’ll need to reapply more often because those don’t adhere to the horse’s coat as well.

How many horses do you need to treat? When you only have a few horses to treat or you’re able to apply the spray frequently, you could use an aerosol spray. These are easy to apply as you can simply hold down the bottle and spray on the coat.

Is it sweat resistant? Flies can be found in swarms during those hotter summer months. When horses get turned out in the fields during this season, they get hot and sweaty. You should get a fly spray that is sweat resistant like UltraShield Ex or Endure Sweat-Resistant Fly Spray. These fly sprays are weatherproof and remain effective through rainfall. The formulas are made with multiple sunscreens and conditioners, like aloe and lanolin to keep those coats healthy.

Should you use a water-based spray? These formulas tend to be less irritating and don’t attract as much dust and dirt. You can get Repel-35 Insect Control Spray for a more gentle combination.

If you have multiple horses and want a more budget-friendly option, Permectrin II 10% Emulsifiable Insecticide won’t break the bank. You can mix your fly spray as you need it. Make sure you follow the directions on the bottle because too much of the good stuff can irritate your horse. Not using enough of it will make it less effective.

Spot-on fly control is used like flea control for dogs and cats. Products like Equi-Spot get applied to different points on your horse’s body and may remain effective for two weeks. Using a spot-on treatment reduces the number of spray applications you’ll need. These products have exact instructions so there’s zero guesswork involved in the application process.

Natural fly sprays are always an option. These are non-toxic and offer a safe alternative to traditional fly sprays. Jeffers carries Farrier’s Wife Stop the Stomp that’s made with natural oils that repel insects. You’ll most likely need to apply these more often, so keep that in mind.

Must-have leg wraps

Fly leg wraps can be crucial investments for your horses. Many owners buy lots of protective gear and products but forget about the leg wraps. If you’ve ever cleaned your horse’s hooves, you know they can end up with some smelly stuff in them from the pastures. When you combine the collected dirt and manure, you get the perfect combination to attract flies and other pests. You may have noticed your horse stomping to get the flies away. When they do this, it causes stress to their legs and can crack their hooves.

Using fly wraps can also be beneficial during warmer seasons to prevent summer sores on a horse’s legs. Fly wraps help decrease dermatitis caused by allergies so you get extra protection for your equine.

Summer sheets for horses with fly allergies

Many horses get sunburned easily and suffer from allergies in the summer. These may be affectionately referred to as sweet itch, but it’s not a treat for your horse. These summer sheets can help prevent UV damage, fly allergy symptoms, and sweet itch symptoms.

It’s all too easy to forget that horses can get sunburns. Most of them spend lots of time grazing in pastures, so we tend to think they’re immune. Yet, they can get burned when exposed to too much sun, just like we do. During warmer weather, you may notice your horse’s skin become reddish or hot to the touch. If you have a light-colored horse with white markings, sunburn is even more of an issue.

Sweet itch is also known as summer itch. Every year, tons of horses suffer from this allergy. The symptoms come when your horse develops an allergy to biting flies and midges. You may notice things like prolonged rubbing or itching of the affected areas. Sometimes the horse has irritated skin and will eventually rub most of their mane and tail out trying to relieve the constant itching.

If you have any of these concerns, you may want to invest in a summer sheet for your horse. When it comes to allergies like sweet itch, summer sheets can be a true lifesaver. One of the worst things you can do is ignore the symptoms. If the condition gets bad enough, your vet may recommend steroids and antihistamines, along with summer sheets for better protection.

Fly sheets

With the weather quickly getting warmer, you don’t want to horse around with those nuisances that come with the heat. Jeffers has a wide selection of fly sheets that offer various features and benefits for your horse’s specific needs.

Soft mesh fly sheets are comfortable and lightweight. These offer breathable protection and some UV coverage. They’re available in several styles like standard neck, detachable neck, or combo neck. You can also get belly flaps to provide more protection for your horse’s stomach.

Durable fly sheets are for those horses that play hard. If you’re looking for something that can last, one of the top products to get is a durable fly sheet. The mesh is generally made of Textilene or higher-denier polyester. One of the most popular products for this is the WeatherBeeta ComFITec RipShield Plus Detach-a-Neck Fly Sheet.

What about insecticide? In areas where flies can be truly overwhelming, a fly sheet that has built-in insecticide can drastically improve your horse’s comfort and help decrease fly spray applications. A product like Amigo Bug Buster Vamoose with No-Fly Zone is treated with insecticide as the mesh is made. This product can be a game-changer for horses that have fly- bite allergies.

Another popular option is getting a camouflage fly sheet. These are specifically designed in colors and patterns that act as fly camouflage. Camouflage sheets provide a more natural alternative to fly sprays because they help cut down the amount of insecticide needed throughout the warmer seasons. Colors like aqua and orange have been shown to disorient the fly’s vision so that it doesn’t know where to land. These sheets can provide plenty of protection for your horse against the swarms of flies during those hot months.

Proper management is crucial

Managing your horse’s environment is crucial to minimize fly breeding. Think about the stables and confined areas, along with pastures. You want to have proper water drainage in the fields and always keep stables clean from manure and soiled hay. Proper cleaning of the horse’s living areas is critical to reducing those fly breeding sites.

It is now approaching the spring season, and in many places, it feels like summer. There are plenty of options to protect your horses from flies, so pick the right combinations for your needs and don’t wait until it’s too late. Flies are more than annoying. These pests can be dangerous and will impact your horse’s health, so controlling them is one of the most important things you can do as an owner. At Jeffers, we have all the equine supplies you need to protect your horse from those pesky critters this summer.