A fly-free summer

A fly-free summer

Horses are often plagued by flies and other biting insects through the summer months. Not only are these bugs a constant irritation, but they can be the cause of allergic reactions, infections and can even spread diseases. And it’s not just your horse at risk – riders can get bitten, too, and if you’ve ever been nipped by a horsefly you will know just how painful it can be!

In the UK, the biggest threat comes from bot and stable flies, and from midges for equines who suffer sweet itch. Sweet itch occurs when a horse or pony is allergic to the bite of the Culicoides midges, which causes intense itching at the sites where the midges have been feeding. Once the habit of scratching the site begins, it is hard to break and usually results in the horse rubbing until bald patches appear. Most commonly affected are the mane and tail, and it can look unsightly when they become rubbed. Prevention is the best way to protect against sweet itch so early preventative measures, including covering your horse with a fly rug from early spring, is the key.

Bot flies, which are often referred to as warbles, are large, unsightly flies that have the appearance of a large wasp or bee. They hover around the horse laying their eggs on the horse’s coat during the height of the summer. The eggs appear as small white or yellow dots, most commonly seen on the inside of the horse’s legs. If they’re not removed, the eggs hatch, causing the horse to scratch the affected area and consume the larvae. The larvae can also bore through the skin and on entering the body cause lumps and bumps to appear.

Essential protection

At Bridleway we know the importance of keeping flies and other biting insects at bay, which is why we have developed a range of fly rugs and veils to suit all your needs https://www.bridlewayequestrian.com/shop/home.php?cat=263

But there are other measures you can take as a horse owner to help protect your equine friend.

Fly repellents come in gels and sprays, wipes and creams and some will offer a full day’s protection. Many horses don’t like the sound of a spray, so you can apply this by using a sponge and spraying the fly repellent onto the sponge first. Wipes are really useful for the face and head where you wouldn’t use a spray, and these are also great to take in your grooming kits on show days.

Many horse owners prefer to keep their horses stabled during the day and turn them out at night in summer, which is an effective way of keeping him out of the heat when the flies are at their worst. Make sure stabled horses come into clean beds as flies thrive in warm, moist areas, so dirty and wet bedding provide a perfect breeding ground.

Dusk and dawn are the danger times for midges and so horses who are sweet itch sufferers and turned out at these times need to be covered up with a fly rug that has a belly cover and blocks the entry to even the smallest of insects. Keeping water troughs and buckets clean will stop them becoming stagnant and a breeding ground too. When hacking out on a hot summer’s day, remember to apply plenty of fly repellent and a bonnet with ears or fly veil will stop your horse constantly shaking his head to get rid of the flies. Fly tags that you can plait into the forelock that are impregnated with fly repellent have proven beneficial in helping keep flies at bay.

Protect him daily and we hope you will have a pest-free summer.