With spring leaving us and summer weather settling in, barnyard insect pests are out in full force. The armies of horse flies, black flies, house flies and all other flies invading your horse’s personal space can seem overwhelming and are irritating for both you and your mount. Help keep the summer invasion under control with these fly control tactics.
- Keep Stable Grounds Clean: Removing items of attraction for flies is the first step to insect control around your barn. Ensure that manure is being removed from stalls and paddocks throughout the day, and that grassy areas around the barn are kept trimmed. For manure that cannot be removed regularly, Fly Predators is a natural way to stop pest flies where they start. Insects are also drawn to standing water as it serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes and the like, so emptying any unused water tubs overnight can help. Additionally, make sure grain is secured in containers that won’t let water in, and will keep feed fresh while keeping bugs out.
- Fly Free with Air Flow: Stagnant or stale air holds in barn scents and moisture, which attract flies. By keeping air circulating throughout your barn, you help to keep a fresh environment where flies and other insects don’t see the appeal. Installing some fans throughout your stable can help keep the interior environment more comfortable for everyone.
- Shield Your Horse with a Fly Sheet: A fly sheet can be great armor against flies and other biting insects that pester your horse during turnout. Since flies are typically a problem in summer months, it’s important that your fly sheet is lightweight and allows maximum air flow to keep your horse cool while protecting him from flies. Weatherbeeta’s Airflow fly sheet does just this and if your horse is particularly sensitive to flies, the detachable neck cover is a great add on to this fly sheet to reduce bites on the neck as well.
- Add Additional Armor: Fly sheets are not the only means of defense. A fly mask like the Airflow by Weaterbeeta, will shield your horse’s eyes and ears from nagging insects. Protecting these sensitive and vulnerable areas is important and helps to reduce the stress your horse feels from having to shake off pestering bugs. Additionally, fly leg wraps can lessen continuous stomping while turned out or in a stall.
- Spray Them All Away: Of course the most common and widely used fly control is fly spray. The wide array of fly control products available allows you to choose the perfect product for you, your horse, and what you will be doing. Fly spray should be liberally sprayed on the horse before turnout, before being ridden, and after any bathing or rinsing off so that they have a fresh coating.
Utilizing these strategies should give you a one up on the flies, and will certainly help to make your horse happier. Outfitting your horse in a fly sheet and fly mask has the added benefits of protecting him from the harmful UV sun rays. Avoiding sunburns on light areas of the coat will help keep your horse looking their best all season long. Feeling free from flies is the start to a wonderful summer with your four legged partner.
High-quality saddle pads and girth covers not only ensure your horse’s comfort, they also help to protect an expensive saddle. Horse tack and equipment that’s intended to last for years is an investment. If you want a new fleece saddle pad or girth cover to provide your horse with the comfort and protection it needs for an extended period of time, you must take proper care of it. Use this guide to clean and maintain your fleece tack, and ensure your favorite items ride the distance with you.
After Every Ride:
- Shake or brush the fleece. Dirt and moisture get into the fleece fibers during each ride. Since over-washing isn’t good for it, shake and brush your fleece tack in an open area to loosen and remove dirt, while also fluffing up the dampened fibers. Using a face and leg curry comb is a great trick to loosen the hair and dirt that is stuck to the pad, particularly in the hotter summer months when your horse has been sweating. A brisk brush with a stiff hard brush after will clear the pad of hairs and dirt left behind.
- Protect from sweat and moisture. Allowing the fleece saddle pad and girth cover to completely air dry is important. Place them with the damp fleece-side-up in a location that’s out of direct sunlight and away from any other heat sources that could dry out the fibers or cause shrinkage.
- Store properly. Between uses, it’s important to store a fleece saddle pad or girth cover in a dry location. If longer amounts of time will pass between uses, you can store the saddle pad in an airtight container after it’s properly dried. This will keep it clean and protect it from pests.
Deep-Clean Your Fleece Saddle Pad:
- Remove excess sweat, soil, and dirt. Occasionally, you’ll need to give your fleece saddle pad and girth cover a deeper cleaning. Always use cold water to do this and a gentle cleansing solution. Washing the fleece saddle pad and girth cover in the washing machine on the gentle cycle is fine, just double check that they are in fact fleece and not sheepskin.
- Dry properly. It may take a bit longer to hang-dry a fleece saddle pad, but you’ll extend the life of it by doing so. Heat from the dryer or the sun can damage the fibers and cause shrinkage, leading to an ill-fitting pad. Always hang-dry the saddle pad in a shady, cool area until it’s completely dry.
Getting the Most from Your Investment
Both you and your horse profit when proper care is taken of fleece tack items. A clean, fluffy, fleece saddle pad protects your horse from rubbing, chafing, and painful pressure that can affect him during training or performance. Additionally, proper saddle pad care also prevents the development of bacteria that can lead to irritating skin conditions.
It’s much easier to get into a routine of cleaning and caring for a fleece saddle pad and girth cover than it is to try to remove several weeks’ worth of sweat and grime. Make the short process of cleaning and drying your fleece saddle pad part of every post-ride routine. With the right products and processes, it’s an easy task to complete.
Regular bathing and grooming sessions are essential components of horse care, ensuring your horse’s hooves, skin, and coat are in healthy condition, while providing important bonding time for the two of you. Additionally, because grooming allows you to go over every inch of your horse, you’ll often be able to tell if something is amiss during these sessions. Horse shampoo isn’t the only thing you need to get your equine friend clean- get the most out of the time you spend bathing and grooming by having these essentials on hand.
Bathing Kit Essentials for Horses
- Horse Shampoo: There is a wide range of horse shampoo options to select from, so choose a horse shampoo that suits your horse’s individual skin and coat needs. Horse shampoo made with natural ingredients and herbs can help soothe soreness, relieve skin sensitivity, and result in a shiny coat.
- Various-Sized Sponges: Have both large and small sponges, made with natural or synthetic materials, for applying horse shampoo. Use the smaller sponges to wash the face and genital area where you need to be gentler. Keep in mind that it’s important to use sponges only for your horse, as sharing bathing essentials can spread skin conditions.
- Hand Mitt: Mitts made of plastic, sheepskin, soft rubber, and other materials are effective for gentle scrubbing and dirt removal. Mitts are often useful for removing sweat stains and dirt on your horse’s legs.
- Combo Tools: Combination tools, such as the Wash Brush are effective for efficient horse bathing. The short bristles and absorbent sponge reduce time without decreasing the quality of the grooming session.
- Sweat Scraper: A sweat scraper aids the drying process by removing excess water from your horse’s coat. They come in all different colors and are ergonomically designed for easier grooming.
Tips for Enhancing Your Horse’s Coat
- Color-Enhancing Shampoo: Horse shampoo that contains color-enhancing additives can help bring out the natural color of your horse’s coat.
- Conditioner: Conditioning your horse’s coat and skin is essential to getting that healthy gloss. Follow the shampoo with conditioner to replenish the oils and moisture lost during the cleansing process.
- Show Sheen: Use Show Sheen or other hair polish to enhance the appearance of your horse’s mane or tail. The silicone in these products makes the hair slippery, so it’s not something that should be used in places where tack goes — but it can add to your horse’s appearance at show time.
A Great Bath is Better than Frequent Bathing
Daily bathing strips necessary oils from your horse’s coat and skin, so it’s more important to bathe thoroughly, rather than frequently. Even in the warmer months of spring and summer, it’s best to rinse off sweat and mud without giving a full bath every time. To ensure your horse is reaping the full benefits of a good bath, make sure you have a good bathing kit full of essential items to helps your horse look beautiful, while maintaining health and well-being.