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An Eventing Groom’s Tips for Keeping Flies Away from Your Horse

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image_for_blog_pos.jpg Summertime calls for the onslaught of the flying armies. Flies, mosquitos, horse flies – you name it, they’re coming out in full force.   As a professional eventing groom, I have to make sure the horses are not concentrating on the buzzing creatures around them, but on the task at hand: the ride .

Quickly, the anticipation of late summer nights and warm weather is replaced with the constant annoyance of incessant fly spraying and slapping your poor horse on the hind end to kill a horse fly.

You may think flies are unavoidable – and, to a point, you are correct. However, there are plenty of things you can do around your barn to keep the numbers down.  

1. Cleanliness is key

A barn full of horses is difficult to keep clean. However, the standard of cleanliness can vary from barn to barn. Common sense dictates that the less manure and dirt there is, the less insects and critters will be attracted.

At our barn, we pick our horses’ stalls several times throughout the day. This saves time – rather than mucking once or twice a day and allowing the manure to build up.

Removing manure throughout the day also cuts down on flies since there is not as much for the flies to feast on.

We also keep our manure pile clear on the other side of the property to draw whatever flies there are away from the barn itself. It’s a bit of haul, but we have a trusty golf cart to pull the wheelbarrow, and the effort is rewarded with way less flies than I’ve experienced at other barns.

2. Use the right products

.Insect protection products are a dime a dozen, so it can be difficult to find the best fit for you and your horses. Luckily, Manna Pro provides a top line of prevention and kill products that are supported by research and provide optimum performance for the consumer.Manna Pro has developed two fly masks that assist with insects as well as UV protection. The Equine Fly MInsect Shield Repellent Gear from Opti-Force is a great option, even for a horse who has never worn a mask before. The Opti-Force Maskprovides great visibility and is very lightweight, which is useful for horses who may get nervous with a thicker mask, and results in less sweat underneath the mask.  The Opti-Force is my personal favorite.  The unique thing about this fly mask is it’s built in, odor-free insect protection. After using this mask on my horse, I noticed no flies in the vicinity of his face, even in turnout. Trust me, this does a lot for the pesky head shaking that comes with constantly trying to ward flies away from his eyes!Another great option from Manna Pro is the Pro-Force Equine Fly Mask. For those of you who turn your horse out at night, you no longer have to worry about playing hide and seek with your horse in the dark pasture. This fly mask pulls out all the stops and give you peace of mind with the Equi-Glo Nite Reflector.  It actually reflects! This mask comes with or without ear covering and fits comfortably on my horse, who has an average sized head.Of course, there are a myriad of other products available for protection, from sprays to sheets and even entire fly spray systems to install in your barn. The battle against the bugs is never ending!

3. Watch your feed.

Believe it or not, some ingredients in equine feed can attract flies, whereas others can help repel them. This is something to be researched on a per-horse basis, as each horse’s needs will be different. There are dozens of home remedies out there for fly prevention from the inside out –some will swear by these methods and others will say they don’t work.

It’s worthwhile to try some of these remedies, though. From feeding repellent supplements to enhancing your horse’s diet with garlic, there are plenty of options. One tip, though: Don’t expect results right off the bat. Remember, anything going into your horse’s system takes a while to build up. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away, give the remedy time to work!

There are many ways to cut down on bug traffic within your barn. All it takes is some dedication and research to find what works best for you and your horses. Trial and error is what the equine world was built on, and as the bug battle wages on there will always be a way to make your barn as fly-free as possible.

To learn more about Manna Pro Fly Control products and download coupons, click here

Sally Spickard

Sally Spickard

Sally Spickard is the head groom for four-star event rider Hawley Bennett-Awad in California. She's spent the majority of her life around horses and is always looking for new ways to improve her daily routine. Sally competes her off-track Thoroughbred, Mischief Managed, at the Novice level of Eventing.

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