Keep your horse comfortable when buzzing, biting bugs abound

Tail swishing. Foot stomping. Skin twitching and head throwing. No, these aren’t new dance moves; they’re avoidance behaviors your horse exhibits when he’s trying to rid himself of pesky flies and other annoying insects that swell to annoying levels with the coming of warmer weather.

But insects don’t just harass your horse—their bites can cause welts and rashes, lead to insect bite hypersensitivity, and even transmit diseases such as Eastern and Western equine encephalomyelitis, equine infectious anemia, vesicular stomatitis, and West Nile virus.

Insects can also affect your horse’s weight and hoof condition. “If you have a horse in turnout, particularly if he’s on the thin side and you’re trying to put weight on him, you don’t want him expending calories from constantly pacing and swatting,” says Krishona Martinson, PhD, equine extension specialist and co-author on a recent University of Minnesota (UMN) study of fly-fighting methods. “Likewise, if you’re trying to rehab a damaged hoof, the last thing you want is for your horse to be constantly stomping.

“You have to consider each horse’s needs when strategizing his care,” she adds. “In cases such as these, you might want to buy all the fly gear—fly sheets, masks with ears, leggings, leg bands, and fly spray—to keep insects at bay.”

Download this free report to learn more about smart insect control strategies.