Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Fly Masks and Fly Sprays"

My girl Kessy
Howdy Folks, 

The other day a young woman emailed me this question: “What's your opinion on fly masks and fly spray?

I answered with my “opinion” this way ...

Correctly fitting well made fly masks that include the ears are great. They even have been proven to help light eyed horses avoid eye damage from the sun.

On fly sprays—over the many years of my life I have found none of them really do all that much in the long run. Certainly not worth the health damage to the horse. Hair works as a wick to suck those deadly chemicals right into the horse's system causing vitality degradation, organ problems, breathing issues, immune issues and even contributing to founder. ... The problem here is people never make the correlation to healthy, attitude or vitality issues with their horses and the chemicals and toxins they expose their horses too.

People look at horses and only ever think "how big and strong" they are. They are indeed. But they also have one of the most fragile systems in all the animal kingdom when it comes to dealing with toxins and infections. They lack the ability to shed, or discharge toxins they way most mammals do. So the toxins accumulate and do slow, long term damage throughout. This applies to all toxins, vaccinations (I believe in some vacs, just not over vacs—once is enough), wormer, sprays, commercial feeds, certain bedding, muddy manure laden paddocks—and many more.

Here is how I recommend, and practice, fly and pest control. First cleanliness; all areas where the horse lives must be free of manure, mud and filth. No horse should ever be forced to walk in mud. This is easy to correct, and I view horses forced to wallow in mud as abuse. 

Then no clipping; no muzzle clipping, or mane, or face and ear clipping, or leg or fetlock trimming—the hair is there for a reason.

We must also do all we can to be sure our horses have immune systems that can (and will) handle the pesky fly, mosquito and tick bites. The first step in this is stringently, doggedly, preventing toxins from entering the horse's system. And the very best, bar none, immune system booster, in my opinion, is Dr Thomas' "Total Immune Health" herbal blend. I put Kessy on it each late winter early spring, and blood work has proven how it increases the white blood cells in the system. A side note here, Dr Thomas has proven to be the best overall health provider I have ever met. I whole heartedly recommend him and his company. Find him here .

Another side note, a VERY healthy horse, with a very strong immune system, will be bothered far less than horses not so well off. Insects are not as attracted to horses in shinning health on great diets (all forage). They go after horses with lesser health and immune.

Lastly I do have on hand all natural spray and will, very rarely, spray her belly. But I think I spray her 2 or 3 times a summer. I do check her ticks often, but even that is not too bad. She does have chronic Lyme from before she was mine, so that takes management, again with Doc Thomas’ help and herbs.

Hope this helps!

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry.


  1. Hi, Dutch! This is excellent information, thanks! I had no idea that hair would wick the chemicals into the body.
    I saw this on Facebook today and thought it was quite appropriate to add here. Note: the oil of lemon eucalyptus mentioned is NOT the same thing as the essential oil we're used to; it's an ingredient in some manufactured non-DEET sprays. There's a natural recipe here, and also a link to a list of essential oils that are (hopefully) effective against mosquitos and ticks, and maybe even flies.

  2. Of course! I'm always on the lookout for healthier and safer ways to care for my horses. I've tried every homemade natural recipe I've ever found, including the one supposedly recommended by the USFS, and none work longer than five or ten minutes. I've never added witch hazel, though, so I'm anxious to try this recipe.

    You said that mud in a paddock is easy to correct;, but my situation is a tough one. The barn is at the bottom of a hill, connected in back to the pasture, which runs uphill. The area behind the barn, where the horses enter and exit, is level, but it's constantly filled with mud runoff from the pasture. We've had it scraped down to bedrock several times, but within a month it's full of mud again. Since the pasture is a dry lot (two horses have EMS) there's nothing to prevent erosion. It's a mess, and I feel horrible that my guys have to walk through mud. Ideally, we'd scrape behind the barn again and fill the area with cobble a couple feet deep, and then fill it with gravel, and then top it with sand. But that's an exorbitant expense, and it would be mud again in no time. If I sent you a few photos, would you be willing to give me some advice? Our county extension guys are cattle people, and not much help to horse people.

    I would appreciate any feedback you could provide! Only if you have the time and desire, of course.

    1. I had a similar situation in PA and did several things. I "stoned the entire bad area a foot thick with "screenings" (your quarry will know what they are) ... Also I do not,can not recommend simple dry lots, rather a paddock paradise "track system" That would solve many issues. In the center you could have grass for erosion control, in the wet spots on the track you can easily stone in. Also the reason natural (or any) sprays "don't work" are often related to the horse's overall health, immune etc ... That's why I recommend Doc Thomas' herbs and help. Thanks Robynne!

  3. Thank you for the clear, concise and accurate information on pest control for horses. I had an herb shop that catered to critters and humans. I did essential oil blends and my partner did whole herb blends. I tried hundreds of eo blends for barnyard pests . They all worked great for about ten minutes. The whole herb blends worked far better because they gradually addressed the underlying health issues, which I suspect were instrumental in creating the initial vulnerabilities. I also imagine that those vulnerabilities are, at least in part generated by issues with local soils and water problems.

    I would add a few spent hens to horse yards for fly control.

    1. Thanks Seymour! And yes we have and recommend chickens as fly control police force.