Summertime and life around the barn is - well - buggy.


Susan Hopf

My horses are turned out overnight during the months of June, July, August and sometimes part of September. There are several reasons for this decision bugs, bugs, bugs and daytime heating.

During the hot days of summer horse flies, stable flies, deer flies, strange enormous flies the size of helicopters whose name has yet to be discovered swarm the horses to the point of madness. At best the horses stomp their feet so often and so hard that they tear their hooves apart and consequently lose shoes. At worst the horses are driven to run and run and run in a futile attempt to rid themselves of the persistent bites and harassing buzzing of these determined pests. Now I know that everyone has to eat and I am an active environmentalist but I really do believe that the world could do with less annoying flies.

Once the horses begin to run they become over-heated and very sweaty which of course attracts even more of the nasty buzzing buggers. Finding it difficult to stand by while my gentle giants are endlessly uncomfortable standing in the blazing sun with nary a breeze a’blowing all the while twitching and swishing to no effect in order to waylay the flies’ attempts to feast I instead bring them all in and take great satisfaction in their peaceful imitation of Fabio with long locks gracefully blowing in the soothing breeze of their stall fans ooooohhhhh baby!!!!

There are many fly repellants marketed for use on horses some work for about five minutes despite the label claims of 24 hour protection as soon as the product evaporates or the horses start to sweat in come the swarms. 

Nighttime turnout does have one major drawback and that is mosquitoes. These little buggers drive me nuts with their whining and blood sucking ways but the horses do not seem to be as bothered by their presence as they are with the flies. Unfortunately mosquitoes do carry more diseases than flies so we now have this concern to worry over.

Most commercial fly repellants do little to repel mosquitoes. Given that and my predilection for nighttime turnout I have concocted a great mosquito spray that I will now share.

In a 32 oz spray bottle add 6 glugs of Nature’s Defense Concentrate Equine Fly Spray and 6 glugs of Vetrolin Liniment and 6 glugs of Avon Skin-so-soft Bath oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with water and gently shake. I have been using this since the beginning of the summer of 2011 and have not had one mosquito hit its equine target. I even use this on my dogs it keeps the deer flies and mosquitoes as we walk in the cool of the evening.

Oh 6 glugs is the approximate equivalent of a cup.

Good luck in the fight against all things nasty that would love to feed upon your horse.