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What is Equine Fly Control?

By KD Morgan
Updated May 23, 2024
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Equine fly control has been a constant battle for horse barns. The combination of heat and manure alone is enough to encourage flies to use your barn as a breeding ground, but many tools are available to avoid having flies ruin your time with your horse.

Equine fly control should start with a clean barn, clean pastures and a clean horse. Keeping your pastures, stalls and barn picked up is an excellent way to avoid attracting flies. This includes keeping all food products enclosed in containers. Pastures should be picked up at least once a week, and stalls daily. By keeping your horse groomed and clean, he will not attract flies as easily.

The market offers the easiest equine fly control in the form of fly predators. Roughly the size of small flying ants, these insects are harmless to anything except fly pupae (cocoon stage). By destroying future generations of flies, the longer you use predators, the less flies you will have. Monthly cost is about $3 US Dollars(USD)per horse.

There are also fly sprays available for equine fly control at various prices. Natural sprays use ingredients such as marigold, chrysanthemum, citronella or cedar as their base. The advantage in using a natural equine fly control spray is that it repels flies whereas chemical sprays kill flies once they come in contact. Natural sprays are effective without making contact.

By the hottest part of the season, you might have to resort to chemical fly sprays. If used in moderation, they are effective and safe for your horse. It is suggested that you give hose downs or more frequent baths to your horse to avoid chemical buildup.

Other options for equine fly control include adding vinegar or garlic to your horses feed. As with introducing any new product, even natural ones, it is recommended to begin with a low dose and be alert for any changes in behavior for the first several weeks.

For very sensitive horses, fly masks, sheets and leggings are an option. Many fly masks are made of comfortable, cool, UV treated mesh that protects the face and ears from flies, insects, dirt and sun. Options come with or without ears, and with a long nose for horses sensitive to sunburn.

Equine fly control does not have to become a full time job. With a few simple aids, you can forget about flies and spend your time enjoying your barn and horses.

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Discussion Comments

By julies — On Sep 20, 2011

When we go trail riding we always make sure we have plenty of fly spray to mix up. Fly control for horses not only makes their lives more comfortable, but is also more enjoyable when you are riding or working around them.

I never get in a hurry when I am spraying them. This helps them stay calm and relaxed and they won't shy away from you as much.

My horses don't seem to be bothered by being sprayed. They seem to know it helps keep the flies away. There is such a difference when they don't have to always be swishing their tail and stomping their feet.

By Mykol — On Sep 19, 2011

My horses never seem to mind having their body and feet sprayed, but never liked having their faces sprayed.

I finally got to the point where I bought fly masks for my horses so they wouldn't be so miserable. I wondered if the masks would bother the horses when they were out grazing in the pasture.

Once they got used to having them on, I think they really liked not having the flies around their eyes and ears. It was also better than always fighting them when I was trying to spray.

I know I wouldn't want to constantly deal with flies swarming around my face, and hope I made my horses life much more comfortable.

By andee — On Sep 18, 2011

If you have horses, you are going to have to deal with flies in one way or another. We always had more flies when we had horses around. They ranged in size from regular flies to big horse flies.

We always kept bottles of horse fly spray mixed up around the barn. In the middle of the summer it seems almost unbearable for them if you don't somehow treat the flies.

I know some horses that have even split their hooves because they are constantly stomping to get the flies off their feet.

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