Fly and Tick Control: Keeping the Bugs at Bay

It is officially summer in New England and with summer comes amazing things like more horse shows, long days under the sun, equestrian tans and bathing ponies. There’s also not so pleasant things that crawl on tiny legs or fly through the air and torment both us and our equines.

Here in New England, one of our major issues are ticks. But as the population has changed, it’s not only just New England that is tormented by these eight-legged bloodsuckers.

There are a couple of ways to help protect your horse against ticks.

One – keep tall grasses under control. Watch out for the grass growing tall against your fence lines especially if the fence butts against forest. Ticks love dark, humid places and can survive throughout the winter.

Two – use a permethrin-based fly spray that strictly mentions ticks on the label. You don’t have to spray them all over, but watch out for legs, chest, under the tail and under the belly.

Three – check your horse often. Check them all over for ticks that may have crawled onto them and attached. Ticks love under the tail bone, under the elbows, IN the mane at the base where the skin is thin, and under the jaw. If you find a tick, break out those handy tweezers and a bottle of rubbing alcohol to drop them in after. Be careful not to squeeze them. The sooner you find them the better that they may not transmit diseases.

Four – consider spraying your property with a pet-safe tick repellent. They are a few to choose from and they can be a great option considering how bad the tick population has been recently.

As far as fly control, I have a few favorite methods that I employ once they start flying through the air.

For turnout, Jim goes out in a fly sheet from Schneider’s (sstack.com). I really love their mosquito mesh and the soft interlock. (The soft interlock is a bit heavier than the mesh but has better UV protection.) I also have a mosquito mesh neck cover and a good ole fly mask. I don’t really bother with the leg wraps, but that’s just me. I know some people have had good success with the leg wraps if their horses are constantly stomping at the flies.

For fly spray, I love the Pyranha aerosol or Equiderma’s fly spray. The Equiderma feels like lotion even when it sprays back at you and the Pyranha does have permethrin for the ticks.

While riding, Jim always has on a fly mask or a fly bonnet. The fly bonnet is probably my favorite of the two for style reasons.

Inside the stall, yes fans can be great at keeping your horse cool and keeping bugs off of them. However the benefits do not outweigh the risk of the fires that box fans can start in a barn. Our barn are not huge box fan users and I’m totally ok with that.

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