As if flies weren’t annoying enough. Not only do they bite your horse and swarm around his face, they can also make him damage his hooves.
Horses who stamp sunbaked ground in an effort to rid their legs of flies can quickly develop sore feet, to the point of being lame in all four limbs. In addition to bruising, stamping can lead to hoof cracks and splaying.
If you notice your horse stamping repeatedly in an effort to rid his legs of flies, take some steps to protect his hooves.
Start with regular applications of fly spray---several times a day if need be---over the entire length of his legs. You may want to consider mesh leg wraps designed to keep flies off lower legs. Strong fans also help deter flies. In addition, scrutinize your manure-management plan.
Are flies swarming because your muck heap is too large and too close to where the horses are kept? If so, relocation or reduction may be the only way to provide long-lasting relief. Also consider moving your horse into a clean, well-ventilated stall during the daylight hours.
This article first appeared in EQUUS issue #442.