Trail riding and biting flies - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Wild Wonderful West Virginia
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Trail riding and biting flies

So... we went on trail two days in a row, and both times, my (otherwise mannerly and gentle) mare started half-rearing and -- today only -- bucking! I put fly wipe on before we left. We were out for about 45 minutes in cooler woods, on a shady old road that is LOVELY.

So, when she bucked, I really got after her. Smacked her neck and told her to stop. She settled down after the fly left (my husband rides his bike with us and got it).

What do you do when a horse is reacting substantially to biting flies? On the way home she got TOTALLY flustered: stopping, refusing to walk, and then crab walking when she did go forward, stooping to try to bite it, exaggerated kicks under her belly to try to get it off, etc. Do I end the ride early, get off and try to deal with the fly, force her to carry on as if not bothered?

I feel like her focus on the flies is really undoing otherwise good training rides. Thoughts?
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post #2 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 09:16 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Some horses are just more sensitive to fly bites than others.

My TWH gelding absolutely hates those big, nasty horseflies that come out around late summer. And, unfortunately, they seem to LOVE him and are drawn to him like a magnet even when we are riding with a large group.

I've been on some rides where I felt like I should just turn around and ride backwards in the saddle for as much as I kept having to turn and smack those flies off his rump. He's not bad. . .he doesn't throw a total tantrum or buck, but it's a miserable time for him.

One thing you might consider is Fly Armor - either the bands that fit onto your tack, or the kind that can be tied into the mane and tail. I've found that they are the most effective thing, especially in hot weather, because unlike fly sprays and spot-on fly control, the Fly Armor actually works BETTER the hotter it gets, and it doesn't "sweat off" or wash away in a stream crossing. I started using the mane tie-in band late last summer and it really worked well for us.

Aside from that, I don't like my horse to get too dependent on me to take care of his fly issues. Yes, I will swat them away, but he doesn't get to cut his work short just because he's reacting to the flies.

I expect my horse to stay focused on what he is doing and where he is putting his feet when we're out riding. You may want to consider a fly bonnet, or rump rug, or some other more physical/less chemical methods of fly control for your trail rides in order to keep your horse's mind off the bugs, and on you.

"Parelli horsemanship is just like painting by the numbers. You need absolutely no skill. You just put this color here and this color there, and when you're done, you have ... a mess no one wants." mp
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post #3 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 10:05 PM
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Like was said, some horses hate them worse than others, and one of mine only has to HEAR the giant black divebombers and he starts to jig. THere are several different types of fly sheets that you can ride with, some are like a quarter sheet, and now there is one that is pretty much like a full fly sheet. I have a neck covering one and a butt covering one, but I never use it, since I am honestly more afraid on a bee getting under it......or it getting caught on brush. I did get a new fly mask for trails, again there are several kinds, and that helps with the head shaking, which I hate.
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post #4 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 11:00 PM
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I would just bring a can of fly spray with me.
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post #5 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 11:28 PM
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ride faster.
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post #6 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 11:34 PM
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We laugh that my geldings name is phly, and attracts flies like no other. Especially at the croup which turns him into bucking stock.
But after a few years, he's learned that I use my hat to smash em on his rump and doesn't flinch at all or even move.
I've found swat and bacon grease the best defense for the common sensitive spots.
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post #7 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 11:58 PM
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I went on a two day trail ride and my horse was acting antsy on the second day. I thought it was flys, turned out the taller grassy areas had chiggers and she was reacting to them. When we returned home they had bit her legs and under her saddle pad. Out of four horses she is the one that had the worst reaction from the chiggers' bites.
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post #8 of 26 Old 06-17-2013, 11:59 PM
Join Date: Feb 2010
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I went on a two day trail ride and my horse was acting antsy on the second day. I thought it was flys, turned out the taller grassy areas had chiggers and she was reacting to them. When we returned home they had bit her legs and under her saddle pad. Out of four horses she is the one that had the worst reaction from the chiggers' bites.
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post #9 of 26 Old 06-18-2013, 08:01 AM
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Even the best of "my horse never bucks" horses have trouble staying sane when one of these is drilling into them. That ugly-disgusting-looking snout is bigger than a vaccination needle

The best you can do, is to start building a rapport with your horse to make her understand, you're going to reach back there on her butt and kill the fly. I won't smash them because they're too big and icky but, I do take great pleasure in pulling their wings off and letting them crawl around until something gets them

Chiggerbites, egads hobbyhorse, I haven't run into that one. Ticks yes, chiggers on my horses - I wish I hadn't read that

At home, I don't have much of an issues with the green deer flies or those big black horse flies. Howeverrrrr, the other day, I saw two deer flies land on one of my horses in the barn and the tub fan was aimed right at him

I've never seen the big flies follow the horses into the barn before. With all the rain many of us have had, I'm afraid this is going to be a year for flies

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post #10 of 26 Old 06-18-2013, 09:20 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Feb 2013
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We have been plagued with the green horse fly here in Northwest Fl. I usually see 2 or 3 flying around each of the horses to the point that one of the other horses tries biting them in mid flight. I keep a small spray bottle with flying insect repellent to douse them while riding.

Here is a pic of what I'm talking about and they are the same size as the usual dark colored horse fly.
Green Horse Fly.jpg

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