Beat those annoying bugs this summer!

Bugs, bugs, bugs!  Oh the horror!  Summer should be fun, with us enjoying our horses out in the warm weather.  Yet flies and mosquitoes haunt us and taunt us, leaving both us and our poor steeds rather frustrated and uncomfortable.  There are however some easy measures to take, to limit the frustration and allow us to rediscover the joy of summer riding.

Flies & Mosquitoes

Flies and mozzies have to be the most frustrating bugs over summer.  However there are some simple measures you can take to prevent them from attacking.  The most valuable tool is a good quality fly veil or mask.  We use and recommend ‘Flyveils By Design’ who are an Aussie company supplying fly veils with 70% UV protection, and offer a great fit with numerous options.  Whilst these come in many different very pretty colours, we always recommend black as being best, or at least a darker colour to allow your horse to see more clearly through them.  A black fly veil is also great to put over your bridle when riding, and has the added benefit of providing protection from the sun and sunburn.  For the really sensitive horse, a light cotton rug or flysheet can also help to protect your horse whilst out in the paddock, particularly to assist in protecting against biting insects.

A good insect repellent is the next essential item.  With so many out on the market, it is difficult to know what will work best.  Often it comes down to trial and error to see what works for your horse.  However our favourite product is ‘Savvy Touch Faark Off’.  It’s all natural and highly effective, and it really does live up to its rather amusing name!  Not only is it great for horses, but you can also use it on yourself and other pets and livestock.  We have a neighbour who even uses it on her alpacas!  It smells great to humans, but bugs just hate it!  It works well to keep the mozzies from biting, and is one of the only products we have found that also helps to keep March Flies and Bot Flies away too.  Simply spray all over your horse once a day.  My horses have now learnt to come galloping up to the gate in summer to be ‘rescued’ from the flies, and quite happily stand to be sprayed all over.  It is our top selling product over summer, and is certainly worth trying!

If you require a cream based repellent however, particularly for painting around your horses’ eyes or nose, the Troy Fly Repella cream is great.  Use in conjunction with Savvy Touch Faark Off and you have a winning combination!  It is particularly useful for those times when you don’t want to be using a flyveil to protect your horses’ eyes, including whilst in the show ring!

However there are obviously numerous other products on the market which may suit your horse and your situation better.  However keep in mind that many contain some fairly harsh chemicals, which your horses’ skin may react badly too.  So always apply to a small test patch on your horse and leave for 24 hours, to ensure they are not allergic or sensitive to the ingredients.


Lice and/or mites often occur around spring and summer.  They can drive a horse absolutely crazy and lead to a scruffy looking coat, dry skin and often your horse may end up with scrapes and cuts all over them if they are intent on scratching themselves on trees and fences.  In a major outbreak you may also see the lice or mites themselves crawling around on your horse.  Lice and mites can come from many sources, including other horses on neighbouring properties or paddocks, or they can come from other livestock and wild animals, such as sheep, kangaroos, possums and poultry.  The quickest, safest and easiest solution to these nasty little critters is ‘Pestene’.  All you need is to sprinkle a decent coating of Pestene down the top of the horses’ spine, from poll to dock.  You may brush it through lightly if you like, but it’s not overly necessary, as the powder tends to distribute itself across the horse.  The next day, the lice or mites should be dead, and your horse will be much happier!  If necessary, repeat after one week, just to ensure they are all gone and no stray eggs have hatched.  Your horse will also most likely appreciate a jolly good grooming to get rid of the dead critters from their coat.  If you also have dogs, chooks or other livestock on the property, you may like to consider using Pestene on them as well, so they don’t spread backwards and forwards between animals.  If your horse has been wearing any rugs – ensure you dust them too, along with any grooming gear.

Itch and Bite Relief

If your horse does end up with itchy or sore bites from biting insects, then it may be beneficial to use a soothing lotion or gel, to make them more comfortable.  Some horses are particularly sensitive to bites, and may be absolutely miserable if they do get attacked.  Equis Free-Itch Cooling Medicated Shampoo is great for soothing bites or sores, as well as helping protect them from further bites and infection.  It’s not a bad idea to keep some handy in the tack room, just in case!

With any bit of luck, if you arm yourself with the appropriate weapons this summer, flies and insects won’t be too much of a drama.  For further assistance and product advice, the team at One Stop Horse Shop are always willing to help you find the best options for your horses.