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Fly season is here and it is in full force. They are everywhere! The nasty little things drive me crazy. They have been nipping Z to the point of bleeding on his legs. They interrupt our hacks and lessons by being a constant distraction to both Z and myself. I have tried so many different products to battle the flies, and they usually fail miserably. This summer, I feel like I finally have found the best routine to alleviate the flies, as much as I possibly can, and I didn’t do it by purchasing a $300 fly sheet! I’ll share with you what products I am using this summer and also direct you to similar products around the same price range. Many places are having sales and deals on fly gear right now as well!
I fell in love with the Weatherbeeta brand over the winter when I purchased Z’s blanket and turnout sheet from them. They have held up so well and didn’t cost a fortune! I decided to go with Weatherbeeta again when it was time for a new flysheet. When picking a fly sheet, you need to go with the ones with the lightest material, such as mesh. Last year, I had a thicker one that made Z way too hot! Weatherbeeta has a few different options, but I have the ComFiTec Essential Mesh II. It has held up well with Z’s romping in the pasture and has yet to make him overheat. It’s on sale at Dover for $64.95 right now (originally just $70)! Stateline Tack has the first edition of the sheet for just $51.96.
A good fly mask WITH EARS is a must! If you follow along my Instagram, you read about the horrors we went through when Z got ticks in his ears. I do not wish that upon anyone. The tall grass and wooded areas in turnouts are prime places for invasive bugs. The mask I use and have used in the past is the Cashel Crusader. Its runs for $26.99. Make sure to get the one WITH EARS! Cashel also makes a mask that is just for riding. A friend of mine has it, and I want to look into getting one soon! There are so many quality fly masks out there. It seems every brand makes their own, so you have many options. The important things are that the material feels strong, the velcro straps are quality, and it has good ear coverage.
Oh fly sprays. There are a million different kinds and they all claim the same results. I feel like I have tried every spray out there. I wanted to go with the all natural ones to avoid the harsh chemicals, but honestly they didn’t work at all for us. I tried the Ultra Shield Green and the Espree Aloe Herbal sprays. Neither held off flies for more than a couple minutes. The one fly spray that I have found to be consistent yearly is the Ultra Shield Ex that comes in the black bottle. That stuff is strong. They redid the bottle this year to offer horizontal, vertical, and upside down sprays. It retails for around $20-23 depending on where you buy it from. Another option is to buy fly spray in bulk. Almost all fly sprays come in gallon sizes. It seems like a big purchase upfront, but you get more for your money in the long run. The only other fly spray that I have had success with is the Farnam Endure Sweat/Water Resistant. It also contains coat conditioner and sunscreen. It retails for $25-$30.
If you’ve never used SWAT, then you are missing out! This stuff comes in a small container and is like super concentrated fly spray in ointment form. SWAT is perfect for covering wounds and specific areas to keep flies OUT. When Z was having tick issues, I was putting SWAT all in his ears. He also gets bitten really bad on his pasterns, so I usually slather some on there too. Look out because the original SWAT comes in a neon pink color! This is nice because you can see exactly where it is applied and if it has stayed. However if you don’t want pink splotches all over your horse, they do make a clear version.
This is one of the biggest factors in controlling the fly population around your horse. The dirtier things are, the more flies you can expect. Z’s stall gets cleaned for me at our farm, but if I am out and notice he has dirtied it up a bit in between cleanings, I immediately scoop it out and cover with the fresh shavings. I like to keep his food and water buckets wiped clean. They tend to get icky build up around the edges after a while from food falling out of his mouth. Lastly, keeping Z clean plays a huge part in this. I already notice a difference in the amount of flies on him since we got him clipped. He is sweating less. After rides, I always make sure he is completely hosed down and washed with soap in the dirtiest areas. He has a horrible habit of letting his poop run down his back legs, so I put forth a huge effort to keep that cleaned up. I typically wash all of his legs with soap after I ride. Flies are attracted to poop, food scraps, stink, and sweat. Minimize these and you will minimize the flies.
Photo Credits to Dover Saddlery and Mikail McVerry @mcverry