Flies can prove a great irritation to horses. This guide below should help you tackle any fly problems as and when they occur.
Flies are one of the most common equine foes. They can be an almighty distraction around the horse’s face and eyes, and can also leave a horse’s proud main and hair looking a little tatty. Unsurprisingly, this can sometimes make for an unpleasant experience when you are out riding with your horse, so if you are looking to rid the horse of these pesky creatures, our guide below should give you food for thought.
Riding a horse should, to all intents and purposes, be a thoroughly pleasant experience. That’s not the case if that bucolic gallop around the Great British countryside is interrupted by a business of flies (surprisingly, that’s the official collective noun, folks). However, there are steps you can take to control the problem, even if you can never eradicate it completely.
1. Fly spray – it’s an obvious resource to turn to, but it’s surprisingly effective. Before you head out on a trek, spray your horse all over the body. Particular emphasis needs to be given to the face and back, as these are the areas which will most affect you when riding. Controlling your horse whilst swatting away hundreds of flies is a difficult combo for even the most experienced of riders, so bring the spray with you during the ride so it can be reapplied if the problem increases en route.
2. Fly masks – These are ideal for when the problem of flies is particularly noticeable in the paddock. Masks can be bought in various shapes and sizes, so ask your local equestrian supply shop for advice on the right mask for your needs before you buy. Some masks will cover the bridle only, while others may cover more of the facial area, so your decision generally rests with the extent of the fly problem.
3. Tack Attack – Douse the bridle and saddle in the fly spray mixture, by using a cloth to rub all essential pieces of tack. These are lodged on sensitive areas of the horse, so taking this action will at least help to restore some of your horse’s comfort.
4. Crack the whisk – Sometimes when out riding a horse, you won’t see a fly infestation coming. Therefore, having a fly whip to hand will help keep your horse’s face and mouth protected as you hack. Softer than a whip, it won’t do any harm to the horse provided you keep it clear of sensitive areas such as the eyes.
5. Time is of the essence – If the presence of flies is disrupting every training session, go riding in the early mornings as insects are generally more inactive at this time. While this method is obviously not foolproof, it can at least keep the problem to a minimum. Early morning exercise will leave you feeling good and keep flies away when training, so the benefits could outweigh the cons of having to drag yourself out of bed at the crack of dawn.
6. Keep your distance – Flies thrive in damp, moist woodland conditions, so try and stick to open pathways and open countryside. As a rule of thumb, rugged open terrain is generally less susceptible from insect habitation than greener, enclosed areas, so planning an effective route may jusy help you keep flies away when horse riding.