Turn-out with no shade/tons of flies-Is this safe?
My QH mare is settling into a new barn here in the pacific NW. From the first day of her arrival, we have had some warm temps...mainly in high 80s and I'm sure it has hit 90 mid day. She is in a paddock with no shade at all and is there generally from early morning till about 3:30. There is a breeze, water, and she has a fly mask on...but when I checked on her, I was concerned simply based on what I could see happening...even though she seemed fine. It was very hot and her nose and mouth were literally draped in flies. I could not find one spot where there wasn't one. There doesn't seem to be any explanation for the flies because the paddocks are free of manure and nothing around seems to be an obvious attraction except the horses! I was shocked by it frankly. But it is so hot that I don't want to now cover her nose with one of those extender masks either. Should the heavy fly activity on her nose be a concern?
Now..keep in mind that I'm new to horses so perhaps this is all normal stuff I'm just not used to? I did visit a friend's barn today (they don't have openings for me currently) and they had very few flies compared to my barn. Weird.
So..those are my two concerns: no shade and the heavy fly activity. I am almost ready to bolt out of this place but I have already paid for the month and have no alternatives at the moment.
It has been suggested to me that I keep her out at night but this barn does not do this so it is not an option. Wondering if I should leave over this? Should I keep her stalled during warm days? I'm really confused about what to do.
First off, a good fly spray would do some good.
I've heard from various reliable friends that fly masks can actually be bad in the event that an insect happens to get trapped inside it. If you're concerned about flies near her eyes, you can get a fringe and rub (not spray) fly spay into the lower areas of her face using a rag or a sponge.
There usually aren't many flies around our farm, but there have been more now that the weather's getting warmer. They seem to be attracted mostly to my boy though (like mosquitoes to me...haha).
As for the shade ordeal, what we're doing now that the summer's heating up (it's been like 100+ degrees for the past week or so) is we put the horses out at their usual time (10AM or so) then bring them in during the hottest part of the day. They get turned out again when it starts to cool off. So maybe you could put her back into her stall during midday or request they do it if you cannot.
No shade is bad. I wouldn't keep my horse somewhere without shade.
The long nose fly masks are not hotter so I don't know why you wouldn't want to use one if it increases her comfort. If you're adamant against the lover nose, spray some fly spray on a cloth and wipe it on the furry parts of her face or buy some Swat and smear it on.
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I would be concerned about the no shade - middle of the day could be very harsh. They should at least have an overhang to get out of the sun. I'm surprised they don't allow for night time turn out. It would be much better on her. If the choice is between absolutely no turn out and turn out during the day, I would still think some turn out is better than none. They need their time out of the stalls. And take this month to look into better barns now that you know what you don't like.
As to the flies - it is horrid around here this year and mine get covered pretty badly with them. At least in my area it was due to the very mild winter we had, they came out in a vengeance - worse than any other years. If the manure is being removed then the barn is at least taking steps to try to prevent them. Tons of fly spray helps, but doesn't get rid of them completely. If you bought fly spray for her would the barn put it on her for you?
And as for the flies on the nose, I'll try anything!
You can ask politely if they would do that for you. Unless you signed any paper that waived their liability (like my barn did), they would be responsible for anything happening to your horse. If you explain your concerns, they may oblige your request.
If the only options are no shade and outside or stay cooped up, I would keep the horse inside. Make sure she has access to plenty of hay and water. See if they will let out horse stay out overnight so she's not inside all day.
Definitely look around for other places if they're not able to give your horse better accommodations.
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How long do they turn out for, is it all day? If it's only a few hours I wouldn't worry about the shade. My barn only turns out for about 2-3 hours on very hot days. Most of the turnouts do not have shade but it doesn't seem to be a problem. In fact, most of the stables in my area do NOT have shade in their turnouts, and some don't even have water. I am lucky though, my stable does not turn out in extreme heat or they get up in the wee hours and turnout before breakfast if it's going to be hot.
As for flies. I see no problem with fly masks. I've never had an insect get caught under one. The only issue I have come across is another horse helping my horse to get it off and then they bury it in the dirt/mud.
What color is your horse? Equus published a report last year where they did some research that showed that darker horses attract more flies than lighter horses (why you can usually only find white fly sheets). My horse is BLACK so he has a huge issue as well. In fact last year you couldn't find a fly in our whole stable, not even on the other horses except mine who had about 50 buzzing in his stall even with auto fly spray in there. I have been giving him Smart Bug-off this year and the amount of flies around him has greatly diminished. I used to use a bottle of flyspray each week, now 1 bottle lasts me a month.
Come summer/fly season I change out turnout routine for the sake of both horse and human.
It gets very hot, humid and flies become un bearable at times.
So on extremely hot days (hot usually equals more flies)...we turnout early, all horses are fed and turnout by 5am. They stay out in the cool of the morning w little to no bug activity. Then are turned in as the heat of the day hits....usually around 11. Some last longer (a bit tougher), but most are out no later then 1,as its just way to hot, and they're not happy.
They come in to a nice fly free cool barn. Where they can relax and snooze :)
I let the horses be the judge, if they look ok, they stay out. If they look miserable, they come in.
We then will turnout again in evening if need be for the horses/owners who want their horse to have a bit more out time.
Never mind them, I don't want to work in the scorching heat, so we start early end early, and then do any other farm work later on in evening. It just makes for a happier bunch of horses and people!!
So I'd discuss perhaps asking your BO if they'd consider an earlier TO and TI for your horse. Worth a shot. Your horse will be much happier
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I live in Wyoming at 7,000 feet. It has been in the high 80's/low 90's lately, and of course we are hotter/drier because we are at such a high altitude.
My horses are out 24/7. They have access to turnouts, trees, and areas of shade from two buildings. Yet, they are standing out in the hot sun. There choice.
Course my horses also stay out during the winters of -35-40F with snow and again, very rarely go inside the turnouts.
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