Flies and midges can be really annoying for your pony because, apart from swishing his tail at them, there’s not a lot he can do to get them to go away. And it’s not just that they’re annoying – some bite, too. Luckily, there are a few things you can do for your pony to help him fight the flies.
Think about management
Flies are most active during the day, so if your pony’s particularly bothered by them you might want to consider changing his turnout routine so he’s in during the day and out at night. When he’s turned out, make sure he has a friend so they can stand nose-to-tail to give each other a helping hand at keeping the flies away. It’s a good idea if your pony has a shelter to escape the flies, too.
There are some things you can’t change, but should be aware of – for example, the location of your yard. If it’s near a river or pond, or sheltered from wind, there will always be more flies.
Did you know?
Ponies with sweet itch are allergic to the saliva of the Culicoides midge, so when they’re bitten they scratch themselves to relieve the itch.
- still air – perfect flying conditions
- stagnant water – ideal for breeding, eww!
- light – easy to navigate
- poo – mmmm, tasty!
- easy access to your pony – less work
- dusk and dawn – perfect temperature
Flies don’t like…
- windier places – harder to fly
- dark areas, such as shelters – they don’t adjust to changing light very well
- fly sprays – they hate the smell
- getting swished by a tail – ouch!
- zebra print – too confusing!
Fly rugs keep flies and midges off your pony without him getting too hot. For extra protection, look for one with a neck, belly cover and long tail flap. Some have waterproof panels and UV protection, too.
Masks stop flies from landing on your pony’s face. You can get them with or without ear and nose covers, depending on what your pony prefers.
Fly sprays help repel flies because they don’t like the smell. There are lots of different types with different ingredients. If your pony doesn’t like being sprayed, choose cream or gel versions, instead.
Fringes and ear bonnets are great for fighting flies when you’re riding. Fringes attach to your browband and the dangling tassels keep the flies off your pony’s eyes, while ear bonnets keep them from landing on or in his ears.
Supplements including garlic, brewer’s yeast and apple cider vinegar are often used to deter flies, but to maximise your pony’s defences you need to start feeding them before the fly season so the levels have a chance to build up.