Flies and horseflies make life difficult for horses and riders in summer. Many horses react annoyed and sometimes even panic to the flying insects. Most people underestimate the sensitivity of the skin due to the size of a horse. You have certainly noticed how your horse’s skin already twitches when a fly or gadfly lands on it. In fact, the horse’s skin is extremely sensitive and far more sensitive than human skin. Horses notice light touches immediately and are correspondingly annoyed by flies and horseflies in the summer. A variety of measures can help to give horses relief in the summer.
Fly protection in the paddock
Horses ideally spend most of their time in the summer in the paddock. There, however, they are increasingly confronted with flies. Therefore, close-meshed fly summer blankets, which are equipped with both a cross strap and a belly bib, are suitable for grazing. Fly blankets are generally comfortable for horses due to their lightweight material and have walking folds so that the blanket does not cause chafing. Leg cords and tail cords ensure that the blanket fits snugly against the body, preventing flies from getting underneath. Some fly blankets have a neck section that covers the entire neck area. Some horses react with severe itching or clear skin reactions to flies or mosquitoes, colloquially known as sweet itch. In such cases, consideration should be given to permanently dressing the horse in an eczema blanket.
Why eyes and ears must be protected
The eyes in particular are targeted by flies. This is not only annoying for many horses, but can lead to irritated or inflamed eyes. To protect the eyes, there are several options. Fly masks come in several varieties that protect not only the eyes, but also the nostrils or ears, depending on the model.
Flies rarely go into the ears, however black flies are active, especially in the early evening hours, causing bloody ears in horses. Masks that cover the ears can prevent this. If you only want to protect your horse’s eyes, you have the option of attaching fly fringes to the halter. The constant movement of the fringe effectively repels flies. Some fly fringes have an integrated headpiece, so it is not necessary for the horse to wear a halter in the paddock.
Zebra-look fly blankets – useful or not?
In recent years, the trend is increasingly going to fly blankets in zebra look. However, this trend has a scientific background and is not a fad. Flies have compound eyes and are irritated by the stripes of the blanket and have difficulty landing. Zebra fly blankets, which have a very narrow zebra pattern, are very suitable. The narrower the stripes, the more flies and horseflies are irritated and do not fly at the horse.
How to protect your horse while riding
When riding, you can also protect your horse with a suitable fly blanket. However, many riders find them annoying when dressage riding or jumping. For this purpose, fly hoods are a useful alternative, as they cover the ears.
A popular variant to keep flies away are fly sprays. These contain various active ingredients that reliably keep flies away from the horse for a longer period of time. In the case of particularly panicky horses that cannot find peace in the paddock despite the fly blanket, head protection and fly spray, it may be a consideration to put the horses in the stable or paddock during the warm midday hours and to postpone riding to a time that is less frequented by flies. In the barn, a fly roller or horsefly trap can be used to remedy the situation.
Fly protection at a glance
How much fly protection a horse needs depends on the individual. While some need a fly blanket in the paddock, others are completely unimpressed. If you observe your horse carefully, you will quickly realize what his needs are. A good all-around protection for the paddock or corral is a fly blanket. Care should be taken to ensure a good fit so that the blanket does not chafe. Eyes and ears can be effectively protected with fly masks and fringes, preventing bloody ears and inflamed eyes. When riding, the application of fly spray is recommended, but the duration of effect is limited in most cases.
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