Biting flies, midges, mosquitoes—no question insects
can be a summertime burden for horses.
At best, insects can be a nuisance, and at worse,
they can spread disease, including West Nile Virus
and equine encephalitis. Insects can also incite
allergic reactions and cause summer sores and
To minimize bothersome flies around your barn
and horses, follow these steps:
1. For direct protection, utilize a fly spray
containing pyrethrin frequently (at least twice
daily) and liberally.
2. horses that have insect hypersensitivity (an
allergy that can look like hives, bumps, or worn
spots on the coat or along the mane or tail)
should be turned out with a lightweight flysheet.
Fly masks are also useful to provide relief from
3. if your horse is stabled during the summer, set
up a fan in his stall. Flies have difficulty landing
when there is an air current, so a well-placed fan
creating a strong breeze over a large part of your
horse can drastically reduce bug bites in the stall.
Air movement from fans is also key for proper
4. keeping manure picked up in stalls and small
paddocks helps keep the fly numbers in check,
as does cleaning and refilling water buckets daily.
Stagnant water anywhere around the barn is a
breeding haven for mosquitoes and other insects.
5. if your barn uses fly tape or traps, check and
replace as needed.
6. Flies love filth, so keeping a clean barn will help
make it less appealing. Sweep up spilled grain
and dispose of your food wrappers and trash.
And those empty soda cans or Gatorade bottles
for when you needed a refresh after a ride? take
them home with you; sugary trash is a calling card
Dry, hard ground can be hard on a horse’s feet.
Hooves can adapt to dry conditions over time, but
fluctuations between damp and dry are a challenge,
since hooves swell and contract (like our fingers)
in response to dampness and dryness. This can
predispose hooves to cracking and abscesses. Hoof
cracks and lost shoes are commonly seen in the
summer because dry conditions can suck moisture
out of a horse’s feet.
Here’s how to help your horse’s hooves this summer:
1. When hosing your horse off after a ride, try not to
let him stand in water for extended periods of time.
2. keep up with regularly scheduled farrier visits
during the summer to keep hooves trimmed
and balanced. long toes and unbalanced wear
make for easily cracked hooves due to uneven
3. if your horse has dry or brittle hooves, applying
Fly sheets offer lightweight
protection against pesky