Fly season has already started and, if you don’t have a strong fly control program in place, so has your horse’s fly stomping. Stomping at flies can be more than just an annoyance. The repetitive pounding can be detrimental to your horse’s legs and hooves. Here’s three ways fly stomping can affect your horse’s hooves and how to stop it.
Hooves generally crack under pressure from some sort of trauma. While some cracks can arise from balance problems from poor or neglected farrier work or conformation issues that place unusual strains on the hoof wall, cracks can also be caused by external traumas—such as the horse who stomps at flies incessantly on hard ground.
The location of the crack often determines how serious they are likely to be. Those that originate at the bottom edge of the hoof wall and climb upward are typically just a cosmetic concern that is likely to be eliminated at the next trimming. Vertical cracks that originate at the coronary band and grow downward are more worrisome, especially if they’re deep, because disruption at the coronary band affects the production of new, healthy horn.
If you notice your horse has a hoof crack, note the location and determine whether or not your horse is lame or sensitive in that leg and hoof. When in doubt, it is always best to call your farrier and let him or her know. Oftentimes, farriers are able to fix cracked hooves with a trimming and, in some cases, a properly fitted shoe.
Incessant stomping at flies can make even the most secure shoes loose. While a twisted or dangling shoe will be hard to miss, a sprung shoe pretty much stays in place, the only clue might be a sliding sound as the affected hoof hits hard ground. A bent shoe or one that’s working its way off can alter a horse’s gait or even make him appear lame.
The consequences of a loose shoe can be equally variable. Usually, it’s little more than a nuisance that requires a short visit from the farrier. Sometimes, however, a shoe may cause injury as it loosens or wrenches free. The trick to preventing a loose shoe from becoming a problem lies with quick action once you notice it—either by tightening the clinches or pulling the shoe completely and calling your farrier.
Horses who are annoyed by flies will stomp anywhere, anytime, regardless of how hard or soft the footing. This is important to keep in mind, especially if your horse is stomping in a paved barn aisleway, on the trailer, in a rocky turnout area or anywhere the footing may be hard or uneven. The repetitive fly stomping could lead to foot soreness, stone bruises or even soft tissue strains in your horse’s legs.
Stop the Fly Stomping
An excellent fly prevention program is the best way to not only stop your horse from fly stomping but also prevent the hoof injuries that can come along with it.
- Fly sprays will repel stable flies, and a number of management strategies can help keep insect populations under control.
- Flies breed in decaying organic matter, so clean up soiled bedding and manure from turnout areas daily, and treat manure pile with insecticides or larvicides.
- You can also start your horse on SimpliFly Feed-Thru Fly Control with LarvaStop early in the spring and continue throughout the summer until cold weather restricts fly activity. Break the fly life cycle by preventing the development into mature adults.
- If your horse lives in a pasture, you might consider Equi-Spot Spot-on Protection for Horses. Equi-Spot kills and repels ticks that may transmit Lyme disease. It kills and repels stable and face flies that may help cause summer sores, and it fights mosquitoes that may transmit West Nile Virus.
- If flies remain a problem, consider outfitting your horse with wearable fly protection—fly mask, sheet and boots—which prevent the pests from landing on your horse.
Farnam established the best way to set your horse up for success this Spring is by fighting insects on all fronts. With their three-stage approach of BLOCK – REPEL – REDUCE you can be sure flies, mosquitos and ticks are kept away.