It’s a weird time of year in the UK at the moment, for the weather. Once minute you need a rug on your horse, then the flies are out like it’s summer. But soon, if not already, the shelves will be empty at the tack shops of fly spray as we all go through a bottle a week, trying to stop our four legged friend from becoming lunch to every bug out there!
Type into google What is the best horse fly repellent? and you will get a million answers all contradicting each other. So I thought I would share what works for me. Now I’m not saying that you no fly will ever bother your horse again, as there are so many factors that can make a difference. In my case the main factor is that my horse rolls in the mud as soon as possible, more than likely rubbing off any spray that has managed to cling to his coat after I leave!
Why is this advice the best?
- It’s natural. If you don’t like using chemicals on your horse, or you, then this is for you.
- Low cost. The essential oils and aloe vera gel I use, are all reasonably priced, and with only a few drops of each oil needed, you can do numerous refills before having to buy more.
- Easy to make. Both the gel and spray take moments to mix, they couldn’t be simpler!
As already touched upon above, fly sprays can be hit and miss. Which is why I have a 3 pronged attack. Sometime 4!
- Ear balm
At the first sign of flies bothering the horses, I check for bites inside Riaz’s ears. Then I reach for Amberley Aromatics Tea Tree Manuka Neem Cream. The manuka has excellent healing properties, and tea tree and neem help keep the flies away while the bites heal. I use it for any other skin issues and wounds as well.
- Homemade fly spray
There are many essential oils that have fly repellent properties, but these are the ones that I could easily find, and have worked well for me.
What you need – a spray bottle (I use one that is around 200ml), and the essential oils – lavender, lemongrass, tea tree, bog myrtle, citronella.
Simply add 10 drops of each to a 200 ml bottle, and top up with water. Oil and water don’t mix too well, but as long as you shake the bottle each time, they will mix together. If you have a larger spray bottle, just adjust the drops used, accordingly.
Some years seem to have more flies than others, so if you find it is a bad year, you can increase the number of drops of each essential oil. As long as you still use water to dilute.
- Homemade fly gel
If your horse is anything like mine, spraying fly spray round their head can be a challenge! Also, the amount of rolling they do in the field, makes me wonder how long, realistically, a fly spray can stay on. So I started looking into gels. Aloe vera is very cooling, so great for summer use, and natural so works well with essential oils.
What you need – aloe vera gel (preferably a 99% pure gel), the same essential oils as above, and a separate container to store it in. I use an old moisturiser pot, which is around 200ml. Again, use 10 drops of each essential oil, then put the lid on your container and give it a shake to mix the oils in with the aloe vera.
I use if around the head, and particularly on the back of the ears, where the flies are more attracted to the horse. It can make them look a bit scruffy, using the gel, but it seems to stay on better than a spray. In the picture, I have put the gel on his cheek, and around his ears.
- Fly mask
And finally, a fly mask. I resisted buying one of these, as I regularly find them in the field on the floor, when one of the horses had kindly removed a fly mask from another! But last year, the flies were so bad, I had to give it a go. And thankfully, Riaz realised the benefits, and kept it on!
So, now you can help your horse to keep protected from the flies this summer, with some lovely natural and homemade products that won’t break the bank.
If you try the above tips, or even have some of your own, comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
To find out more about what I do, check out my website.