Photo by Irina Orlova/Shutterstock
While for most horses, insects are just a nuisance, but some are incredibly sensitive to insect bites, have chronic inflammation from Lyme disease, or have allergic reactions and cannot use commonly used chemical sprays. So what are some natural, but effective alternatives to use as insect repellents for horses? See below for some great options.
◆ Ecovet Fly Repellent uses naturally occurring fatty acids to confuse an insect’s natural GPS so they cannot locate your horse. They actually get confused and fly in circles!
◆ Nature’s Defense by Farnam is a water-based spray that uses common essential oils meant to deter flies, mosquitos, and gnats.
◆ Nature’s Force Natural Fly Repellent uses essential oils that bugs avoid, such as clove, thyme, cinnamon, and lemongrass.
◆ BugPellent Cylinder is a solid insect repellent meant to hang in the barn to naturally deter flying insects.
◆ Essentials Insect Repellent by Animal Bodywork & Aromatherapy is a handmade, custom blend of essential oils to gently repel common insects and cling to the hair for 24 hours.
◆ Catnip? Studies have shown that catnip is more effective at repelling flies and mosquitos than DEET. Add some to your favorite DIY blend with a carrier oil and your horse will thank you.
Supplements containing garlic are intended to be ingested and protect your horse from nasty insects from the inside out, all while helping to balance a healthy immune system. These products include garlic.
◆ SmartPak’s Smart Bug Off supports healthy skin and a normal inflammatory response in a tasty pellet form with no added sugar.
◆ Springtime Supplements Bug-Off Garlic provides a 24-hour shield against flies, ticks, mosquitoes, gnats, no-see-ums, and other flying pests as a supplement you add to your horse’s feed.
◆ Redmond Rock Crushed with Garlic is added to your horse’s feed, which encourages hydration as well for those horses that don’t drink enough and who are sensitive to insect bites.
◆ Manna Pro Nature’s Force Bug Clear includes garlic, turmeric (200 mg), grape seed extract, Brewer’s dried yeast, diatomaceous earth and more.
◆ Tick Natural Terminator (TNT) is a small business dedicated to toxin and chemical-free prevention. According to the brand’s patent application: “The present invention is unique because of the presence of dried ground mint, which repels aphids; white flies, and others; dried ground oregano, which repels most insects; food-grade silicon dioxide, which adheres to insect and tick exoskeletons as they crawl through it, dehydrating their exoskeletons, which kills them mechanically instead of chemically.”
The effectiveness of ultrasound to repel ticks and other insects has not been clinically proven, but there are a number of them on the market to plug into your barn sockets or even attach to your animal. While primarily geared to dogs and cats, the Only Natural’s Pet Tick Tag and the SonicGaurd Horse Ultrasonic Tick and Flea Repeller emit a frequency that is meant to naturally repel insects when worn on the body. Braid it into your horse’s mane or attach it to their halter if worn regularly during turnout.
Removing pests from the barn is easier said than done, but less bugs mean less insects biting you and your animals.
◆ Chickens or Guinea Hens! While they may not help the flies, they do eat ticks and other small insects as well as scratch at the manure and disperse it among the paddock to prevent large manure piles that attract flies.
◆ Fly Predators by Spalding Labs is used in a natural environment as a natural enemy that serves as a major check of pest fly populations by destroying the next generation of flies in their immature pupa (cocoon) stage, which breaks the gestation and multiplication cycle naturally.
◆ EZ Trap Fly Trap is an adhesive fly trap with a large surface for trapping flies.
◆ RESCUE! Disposable Hanging Fly Trap is hung outdoors and will easily catch up to 20,000 flies.
And while not technically an insect repellent, the Shoofly Leggins do a wonderful job keeping creeping crawlers from climbing up your horse’s legs and keep the stomping and resulting cracked hooves to a minimum.
Prevention is always the best option when it comes to pests. While no insect repellent is 100% effective, combine some natural alternatives that prevent and repel without adding toxic chemicals to your sensitive horse.
Heather Wallace is a Certified Equine and Canine Sports Massage Therapist at Animal Bodywork & Aromatherapy, an award-winning author of Confessions of a Timid Rider and Girl Forward: One Woman's Unlikely Tale of Adventure in Mongolia, and blogger at The Timid Rider based in Monmouth County, N.J.
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