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Horse Problem - Fly/Insect Control - What to do to keep flies/insects off your horse









QUESTION: Hi Sylvia. What do you use on your horses for flies? Ours are swishing their tails, shaking their heads, and I see little flies trying to land on them.

REPLY: When warm weather comes, the flies come out! I like to use Freedom Spot-On for my herd. It goes on much like how Advantage does on dogs and it comes with instructions showing where you apply the drops on the horse. It lasts 2 weeks (so, when I put it on, I write on my calendar when they are due next in 2 weeks). Don't bathe a horse after putting it on (but you can bathe a horse first, before putting it on) or the soap neutralizes it. Though it's rain & sweat proof, won't wash off from that. Freedom gets rid of maybe 70-80% of the flies, I find, and it's long lasting, so that's why I like it.

And if they still need some fly control help there, in addition, I've found Tri-tec 14 spray is the best fly control spray there is, works really well, better than any other fly control spray I've tried. It lasts about a week or so, sometimes two. So...if flies are bad enough, really bad, I'll use both those, but starting with the Freedom, and topping off if needed with Tri-tech 14. That's what I have found works best, that combination.

I know there are a lot of "natural" products out there for horse fly control, but to be quite honest, every one I've ever tired just don't do the job well enough nor long enough for what we deal with here -- Certainly not here in Virginia where flies are a real menace. Some of the natural products might work temporarily, but rain usually washes them off (and we get a lot of rain in Virginia, sometimes daily thunderstorms in summer!) and I also just don't have the time to fly spray all our horses every single day, and right after every rain, so it's not practical for us. Both Freedom & Tri-tec 14 have long been tested as safe for horses and is vet recommended, so that's good enough for me! So, that's what I have found works best for us. You can find them often in tack/feed stores, or just order them online at Valley Vet.

Now...that said, I do feel that these products might not be right for every horse, especially some "sensitive" horses. Some horses have chemical allergies that make using the above products out of the question. (Tip: When introducing any new fly product on horses, it's important to always test a small spot on the horse and wait a few days to see if there is a reaction!). If you have a sensitive horse, or even potentially sensitive horse, or have an immune compromised horse, etc. (or just wish to go the "natural product" route in general), try contacting my good friend, natural horsemanship trainer and founder of the Natural Horsemanship Center of Oregon, Missy Wryn (, because Missy also can expertly guide folks with natural products for insect control for horses.

Here's another fly control tip I got from a longtime horseman: "bounce dryer sheets" work well to keep flies off the horse's face if you stick one underneath the horse's bridle when riding.

Controlling flies isn't just about fly spray, though, but there are also ways to cut down on flies in your horsekeeping practices. Let me direct you to a link that I think has pretty good ideas: CLICK HERE

Fly predators are another option, but they only work well if your farm isn't really close to another farm (that doesn't use fly predators). Here's more about fly predators: CLICK HERE

Incidentally, if a horse is ever afraid of being sprayed with fly spray, let me direct you to a link on my site on how you can desensitize them to that process:

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