How to Keep Flies Away from Your Horse

If you aren't a horse person, you may not know why all the fuss over flies. Certainly they are a nuisance, but what's the big deal? Flies bite, and those bites can become infected. It's best to get rid of as many as possible to save you and your horse some grief.

There are several approaches to homemade fly spray, and they do seem to work at least as effectively as store bought stuff. Most of it is also safer than some of the chemical sprays.

1) Citronella: Either straight or mixed with other things, this oil used by many to prevent bug bites at back yard barbecues can cut down the fly population on your horse and in the general surroundings. It does wear off fairly quickly. It is often mixed with other ingrendients.

2) Mild Lemon Dish Soap: This is a base for several recipes. When an oil, such as citronella, is added to water, you'd have to continually shake it, as the oil floats on top of the water. If a mild soap is used, it shouldn't be too hard on your horse's skin. It will make dirt rolling a lot more interesting, as the dirt clings to the soap. However, bath time will be a lot easier...

3) Skin so Soft: This is an Avon product that horse owners love. They also buy it in large quantities. Why? It works. It's also a lot less expensive, and can help you keep bug free.

4) Mineral Oil: Like dish soap, this is a common base ingredient. If you buy food grade oil, it won't hurt the horse if he or she actually licks it.

5) Eucalyptus Oil: While this is often recommended for thrush in the hooves, this oil should not be sprayed onto any other body part of a horse. The problem is that it can be an irritant to the skin. You can use the essential oil as aromatherapy, and that could help decrease the fly population also. However, avoid skin contact.

6) Pinesol: Pine essential oil may be safe in small amounts (say two drops per cup), but there are other chemicals in Pinesol, and the maker does not recommend using it on horses in any manner. There is a big chance of skin irritation.

If you decide you'd rather buy your flyspray just to be safe, look for products that use pyrethrum, a plant in the chrysanthemum family. This is a natural product, which can also be used to fog a barn or spray a paddock. Many insects do not like the smell and will leave voluntarily.

Your vet is the best person to consult if you have any questions about what is right for your situation. He or she will know your horse's history as well as what's going on in the area.

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