|My girl Kessy|
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 www.forloveofthehorse.com .
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.