Horse owners’ opinions and attitudes towards flies are as numbered as the variety of products available to deter, conquer, kill, trap, or otherwise mitigate these summer pests. It’s yet another area in which folks can be downright dogmatic about what works and what doesn’t.
There is no absolute right or wrong, but here are a few ideas and products we’re digging:
When it comes to keeping the fly population down around the barn and paddock, we know that manure management and maintaining a clean facility are key. Spalding Fly Predators are also very effective in reducing fly populations without any chemicals. This research-oriented company has been around for more than four decades. Its monthly packets of little flies (which eat pest flies before they hatch) are convenient and affordable. Check them out here.
Of course, many horse owners feel better if they also spray their horses. We’ve tried ALL kinds of sprays and are a bit concerned about the level of nasty chemicals in nearly all of them. Spalding offers a botanical spray with essential oils. It smells like bubble gum and sometimes stains white/grey horses with a slight green sheen. It works okay. EquiSpa has a peppermint Summer Protection spray, that smells fabulous and works alright here.
One might think that more chemical-ly sprays would at least work better. Otherwise, what’s the point of exposing ourselves and our horses to the toxins? In fact, we have NOT found those sprays to be much better.
However, one new product is proving to be safer AND more effective. We discovered Ranger Ready at the Outdoor Retailer earlier this summer and have been using on ourselves and our horses ever since. At the moment, it’s marketed to humans for its effective tick and mosquito protection. The company partners with the Global Lyme Alliance in combatting Lyme Disease. Read more about that here.
We’ve found it to be great for our equine partners and the smaller bottle is easier to handle than typical, liter-sized horse spray bottles. Check out the different scents (including unscented) here.
Ranger Ready uses picaridin, a synthetic compound derived from the natural compound piperine, found in the group of plants used to produce black pepper. It was developed in the 1980s by German Scientists looking for a safer, yet equally effective alternative to DEET. Unlike DEET, Picaridin can be safely applied to the skin, and does not damage clothing or gear.
We recommend the eight-ounce trigger spray bottles.