Summer's Most Deadly Threat to You & Your Horse

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  by Dr. William Sadler, Ph.D.

With Memorial Day behind us, it is the unofficial start of summer.  For horse owners, it is the time for baths, early rides to beat the heat and grazing.  Unfortunately, it is also the season of the dreaded fly!  Yes, flies can be quite the pests.  But, did you know there is another dangerous offender lurking around you and your horse?  The perpetrator is the MOSQUITO.

One may think that sharks, bears, or snakes are the most deadly animals in world, but the mosquito takes the cake. Last year, the mosquito caused over 1 million human deaths from the diseases they spread, according to the WHO (World Health Organization). 

Not only are mosquitoes an annoyance, they can spread a number of diseases to your horse such as the West Nile Virus, Western Equine Encephalitis and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  All three of these viruses are extremely serious as they affect the central nervous system of the horse.   The viruses will cause inflammation to your horse’s brain and affect their nervous system.  Symptoms could vary, but signs would be twitching, difficulty swallowing, standing, depression, and convulsions.  Scary, right!?

So, how do you protect you and your horse from the threat of mosquitoes and the diseases they carry? Firstly, you can simply avoid the environments in which mosquitoes thrive and be sure your horse has the proper vaccinations.

  • Avoid and eliminate places where mosquitoes inhabit and breed such as standing water such as old water in a bucket, dirty gutters, or road ditches.  
  • Add extra protection for you and your horse during peak mosquito hours such as early morning and early evening.  Avoid being outside during these times if possible.
  • Check with your vet on the recommended vaccinations for your horse in your area.
The next way to limit your horse’s exposure to bugs is to use a fly spray specifically designed to repel a broad spectrum of insects and eliminate them on contact.  Manna Pro’s Force  Fly Spray line has something for everyone depending on the rider’s need, and is one of the few sprays on the market which target mosquitoes.

  • Opti-Force® Fly Spray is truly top of the line.  It is a 14 day weather and sweat resistant spray for many uses: Riding, in the pasture, in the barn.   It is great if you are not able to spray your horse for a few days, as this spray provides long lasting protection. 
  • The Pro-Force ® Fly Spray is a powerful spray that repels and kills more than 70 species of insects.  This spray has lasting effects up to 14 days and even is approved for dogs.
  • The Nature’s Force ® Fly Spray has a blend of 5 oils and other ingredients that are safe around children and pets, while still offering 24 hour protection.  A lot of natural sprays get a bad rap because they don’t work, but this spray offers 24 hour protection and is organic.
  • Finally nothing is more irritating to your horse than those nasty critters gathering around their eyes while they are trying to graze.  The Insect Shield ® Repellent Gear from Opti-Force® is a fly mask with a built-in invisible and odorless insect protectant and comes in both horse and XL sizes!  

Now a BIG TIP…

Any time a new horse arrives or a new spray,  make sure you test it on a one square foot area on the flank or rump. Give it 12 to 24 hours and make sure the horse is not allergic.

Remember, multiple products give multiple results.

A fly spray and a mask will give better results than just one product alone.

Good luck out there this summer!


Dr. William Sadler has 40 years of experience in the fields of animal nutrition, animal health and plant nutrition. He has worked for and consulted with a number of major companies in these areas. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Illinois and has a Bachelor's in Chemistry. He has been engaged personally as a child through his adult life in raising of animals and farming. These have included goats, chickens, horses, cattle, dogs and cats. Bill currently maintains an award winning vineyard and small farm.

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