How to Prevent Sweet Itch and Keep the Flies at Bay

The British summertime is finally here and for many of us it beats the cold, damp English weather that we’re used to.

However, for our horses it can be a burden with sweet itch and buzzing flies that won’t leave them be.

While many flies are attracted to the sweet smell of a warm animal and its manure, not only will they irritate the horse by buzzing around its ears, midges and black flies can cause serious damage by biting.

There are ways to help avoid sweet itch and products are available to help keep the flies away, making your horse more comfortable and less irritated.

Here are some tips on how to help:

Let’s talk sweet itch

Sweet itch is a nasty skin condition which tends to occur when horses develop an acute allergic reaction to the saliva of insects. Unfortunately, there is no cure for it however there are ways to prevent it from happening quite so badly.

The first thing you should do is assess your horse’s environment and check whether it’s a breeding ground for midges. Midges love anywhere near stagnant water so remove your horse from areas close to ponds and streams and always make sure water troughs are clean with fresh water.

Midges love manure so try not to have the muck heap in close proximity to your horse’s field. Regularly poo pick to make sure that there is no excess manure in the field. You can also purchase very lightweight summer rugs, fly rugs or sweet itch rugs which are great for protecting your horse.

Make flies buzz off!

Just as they can help with sweet itch, lightweight summer rugs or fly rugs are one of the best and most beneficial ways of keeping the flies from attacking your horse.

The most common places for flies on a horse tend to be around the horses ears, under their bellies or between their front legs where they get hot and sweat. For these areas particularly, it’s best to be extra careful and use fly repellent. To help protect your horse’s ears and eyes, fly masks are available and comfortable for the horse to wear out in the field or whilst being ridden.

If your horse is already affected by flies you should use in-feed repellents such as garlic as this can support their efficiency and immunity.

Make sure YOU stay fly free

It’s not just horses that can be affected by flies during summer. When you’re spending a lot of time around the horses or mucking out in the field and stables, flies can become extremely irritating. You can be fly free too by using various products such as citronella bands and tags.

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