Pleasant temperatures, long days, and the best soil conditions invite you to spend a lot of time with your horse in summer. If only it weren’t for the annoying vermin! For a lot of fun with the horse during the summer months, we present the three best remedies for insect bites.
General Information on Flying and Braking
In fact, harmonious rides quickly become torture when humans and animals are constantly attacked by flying insects. In summer horse and rider naturally, sweat more. Flies, horseflies, and mosquitoes, which are difficult to get rid of, are mainly attracted by the smell of sweat.
Horses are very sensitive to these pests, as they can feel the insects on their skin despite their fur. Responsible for this are touch receptors under the skin, which report the smallest changes in pressure and touch to the four-legged friends. This makes the animal restless, which often makes concentrated work or a relaxed ride impossible. Some horses even panic and can injure themselves or others in their defensive movements.
In contrast to flies, which “only” annoy you, brakes are real bloodsuckers. They can weaken your horse or even transmit disease. These include infectious diseases such as brucellosis (also: Bang’s disease), anthrax, or equine infectious anemia (EIA for short, infectious anemia in Equidae). The common thing about it: Flies also benefit from punctures. They feed on the wound exudate at the puncture sites. This causes inflammation that does not heal well. Horses are damaged twice by horsefly stings.
The most common means of repelling insects and other pests are protective sprays or protective gels. Depending on the brand and variety, they work either through natural essences or artificial additives that spread an odor that is repellent for pests. These protective sprays usually work immediately, last a few hours, and can easily be sprayed on again and again if necessary.
We particularly recommend products that contain only natural ingredients, are waterproof and weatherproof and, thanks to the high-quality ingredients, even have a caring effect on skin and coat.
If you want to create additional or alternative protection, you can use textiles that protect you from annoying pests both when working under the saddle and when standing in the pasture.
For example protective blankets: Cover the entire horse’s body and can be expanded to include the stomach, neck, and head parts. In this way, as much of the body’s surface as possible is protected from vermin. There are also special fly-protection blankets that have cutouts for saddles and allow the rider’s legs to use aids as freely as possible. In this way, the greatest possible protection is maintained even while riding. However, the horse can overheat due to accumulated heat. Therefore, the blanket should be as thin and breathable as possible.
The horse’s head is also one of the areas that are particularly worthy of protection: Because flying vermin prefer to soak up the tear fluid, unpleasant and painful inflammations often occur around the eyes. The most reliable anti-fly agents are masks and hoods made of thin material, which are pulled over the horses’ ears and parts of the head and held in place with the halter. Provided you’ve chosen the right fit, these masks fit snugly against the skin so that bugs can’t crawl underneath. There are also masks with a nosepiece that protect the eyes and ears as well as the nostrils.
Nevertheless, some horses shy away from such masks or take them off again and again. As an alternative for these animals, there are fringed ribbons made of soft fabric, which you can conveniently attach to the halter browband. The fringes usually reach the middle of the nasal bone and fall loosely over the eyes, which keeps bugs away.
Although initially dismissed as pure nonsense, zebra crossings have been gaining popularity for a number of years as a means of repelling vermin. But what does it mean?
Researchers have long assumed that stripes protect the zebras not only from predators but also from flying pests. Biting flies cannot clearly see the outlines of the animal because of the stripes. The result: zebras are flown to less often – and less stung.
This has now also been confirmed by a series of tests carried out by the University of Lund (Sweden). When models with different colors were set up at the same time, very few insects flew on the striped dummies. The success could even be increased: the narrower the stripes, the fewer mosquitoes.
So it makes perfect sense to equip your own horse with zebra crossings. You don’t necessarily have to use striped blankets and hoods, you can also paint on the stripes. It is important that they run vertically (i.e. from top to bottom) and that the pattern is rich in contrast: light stripes on dark horses, dark stripes on white horses, or Isabelles. You can even mix the color of the stripes yourself, e.g. from flour or charcoal plus water. Finger paint or professional cattle marker pens work just as well, of course.
Remedy Without Tools
Last but not least, you can limit the horsefly infestation without additional tools, for example by knowing the correct time of day: there are generally fewer horseflies in the early morning and evening than between morning and afternoon. This not only reduces the likelihood of being stung. The temperatures are also much more pleasant, so that horse and rider sweat less – which in turn attracts fewer brakes.
The weather also has an influence on the flight times of the pungent pests: brakes love high humidity. Therefore, you should not go out with the horse if there is a thunderstorm or if the air is humid. In the summer, insects feel so comfortable in lakes, ponds, and other bodies of water that they lay their eggs there straight away.
Of course, it is not entirely possible to prevent horses from being bothered by vermin. Nevertheless, you can at least make life easier for them during the warm season with these tips and tricks.