Spring is here, and so soon will be the buzzing pests. Here are a few tips that can help keep insects at bay:

  • Use spray or wipe-on repellant rated for the problem insect(s) and is safe for humans and animals.
  • Protective clothing for the farrier: long-sleeve shirt, long pants, neck bandana and hat.
  • Protective clothing for the horse: fly sheet or lightweight stable blanket, mesh leg wraps, mesh or crocheted ear cover and fly shaker attached to the halter or a fly mask.
  • Fans to keep air flow moving within a localized area.

If you’re using barrier methods such as fly masks or leg wraps on a variety of horses, be sure to launder them frequently. Equipment can transfer infectious diseases through what’s referred to as “fomite transmission,” where an inanimate object becomes contaminated from one horse and transfers the disease agent to another horse. Fomite transmission can happen from horse to horse, or among farms and stables, and controlling fomites is an important aspect of equine facility biosecurity.

It’s also a good idea to check for signs of bot eggs on a horse’s lower legs prior to handling; there have been documented cases of bot infestation in human skin and eyes from egg transference.

As for the best use of often pricey fly spray, it should be sprayed mainly on a horse’s lower limbs and belly to avoid foot stamping or kicking, since horses have subcutaneous muscles in their backs, sides and rumps that will shake off flies landing on their topline. For sensitive areas, pour fly spray onto a towel and wipe it onto the horse’s skin or hair.

Bob Smith of the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School points out that fly spray can become an expensive part of a farrier’s overhead costs, but there are ways to handle that from a business perspective.

“If clients don’t have fly spray on hand or don’t spray their horses prior to the farrier’s arrival, farriers can consider adjusting fees to incorporate fly spray costs or have a separate charge to address clients who don’t spray in advance.”

>>Return to the Farrier Tips archive