Keeping Flies Off Your Horse: The Ultimate Guide

It’s no secret that flies are a nuisance, especially in a barnyard. Not only are they annoying to have flying around, but they can also cause your horse’s skin to become irritated. There’s an age-old question about how to keep flies off of horses; after fighting the battle myself, I’ve found some great avenues to take to keep these pesky bugs away.

Here are some tips to help you keep flies away from your horse:




While the invasion of flies may seem inevitable in the warmer months, being prepared ahead of time will keep you from being caught off-guard. By even taking the proper steps in the colder months, you can greatly diminish the fly population that will come in the summer. Here’s a more in-depth look at the steps you can take to keep your horse free from flies:

Invest in Fly Control Products

How to Keep Flies Off Your Horse

No matter how much fly control you do, I can’t guarantee that your horse will never be 100% free from a fly touching them. When an equestrian hears the word “horse,” they immediately think of the word “fly;” the two just go hand-in-hand.

Many horses can get irritated skin and eyes due to pesky flies constantly attacking them. During the summer months, horses spend countless hours stomping their feet in order to keep flies off them. This causes the horse’s hooves to wear more quickly.

As you can see, even if your horse doesn’t seem to mind the bugs, investing in fly control products can help to keep your horse to stay healthy.

Here’s a list of fly control products that will help keep your horse safe from flies:

Keep Flies Away From Your Horse Using Fly Spray

The fly spray I recommend is Farnum Wipe Original Fly Spray. (click here to see on Amazon.) I personally use this product on my horse and the results are noticeable. I’m sure all horse owners have gone through the frustration of using a fly spray that doesn’t work. Well, that’s not the case for Farnum! I’ve been very pleased with how this spray keeps flies off of my horse.

Fly spray is a liquid that comes in a spray bottle. You can squirt the spray all over your horse to keep the flies away. Fly spray keeps the flies from landing on your horse and it can even kill flies if squirted directly on them. This is a must-have for the days you plan to ride your horse, as most fly sprays will last for the duration of your ride.

Fly Repellant Ointment

If your horse has a cut or open wound, flies can land around the area and cause it to become infected and irritated. Since horses tend to be accident-prone and a fly favorite at the same time, you’ll want to invest in a fly repellant ointment to not only keep the wound clean but also to keep the flies away.

Anyone in the horse community can tell you something about SWAT. It’s the most popular fly repellant ointment on the market and it really works. When the fly season rolls around, I always make sure that I have this product in my tack box. If you’re interested in purchasing SWAT, click here to see the price on Amazon.

Fly Mask

Have you ever wondered why flies are so attracted to your horse’s eyes in particular? Flies thrive on moisture, and eyes are naturally moist. These annoying bugs can easily cause your horse’s eyes to become irritated or infected. To avoid this from happening, invest in a fly mask for your horse.

I recommend the Cashel Crusader Fly Mask as I’ve used it on all my horses. Fly masks slip over your horse’s face and create a protective barrier to ward off the flies. Fly masks are made out of a mesh material that still allows your horse to clearly see. Many fly masks can also protect your horse from UV light, so they are great to use on horses that have light-pigmented eyes.

Fly Sheet

Flies can cause your horse’s skin to become irritated and inflamed. I’ve seen horses get hives or even hematomas from the flies hanging around. In order to offer your horse comfort from the fly season, try using a fly sheet. I personally recommend the Kensington Platinum SureFit Protective Fly Sheet (click here to see on Amazon.)

Fly sheets are lightweight blankets that drape over your horse’s body. Some brands will even cover their necks. Like fly masks, these blankets are made from a mesh material that keeps the flies away but can also protect the horse’s skin from the sun.

While these blankets were made to be worn during the summer months, always keep an eye on your horse when they’re wearing a fly sheet. If it’s too hot out, even this lightweight blanket can seem like a heavy winter comforter. My own horse has comfortably worn this blanket in the mid-’80s (29 Celcius). Check your horse frequently to make sure the blanket isn’t causing them to sweat or become overheated.

If you want to know how to tell if your horse is overheated, check out our article, How to Tell if a Horse is Too Hot.

Fly Repelling Horse Boots

I have just become familiar with this product as some of the boarders at the barn have started using it. Fly repelling horse boots are mesh velcro wraps that wrap around your horse’s lower leg in order to keep flies away. If you’d like to check out a pair, I recommend the Shoo Fly Leggins.

Flies love to hang around a horse’s legs, which causes the horse to constantly be stomping its feet to keep the pesky bugs away. This stomping can cause the horse’s hooves to wear more quickly as well as irritate the skin around the leg. Investing in fly repelling horse boots will help to keep the flies away from your horse’s legs.

Barn Fly Traps

Flies love to congregate in barns because of manure sitting in the stalls and water buckets that hang for the horses. Many barns offer dark and moist places where flies love to breed. A stable is supposed to be a place of rest, so it’s the first place that I want the flies booted out of.

Setting fly traps in your barn can help keep the fly population at bay. I recommend the Farnum Captivator Fly Trap (see here on Amazon) as it’s the trap that’s been used in all the barns I’ve been at.

Automatic Barn Fly Spray Dispensers

If you want to get real serious about eliminating the fly population in your stable, I recommend investing in some automatic barn fly spray dispensers. You can put these dispensers in the stalls or in the aisles, and they will dispense fly spray periodically to keep flies out.

Check out the Country Vet Automatic Metered Dispenser to use in your barn. Imagine a stable where you can sit in the aisle listening to your horses as they comfortably chew on hay; there’s no sign of flies and there are no horses stomping angrily. I do believe that an automatic fly spray dispenser can make this happen!

Feed Your Horse Supplements That Will Repel Flies

Did you know that there are certain supplements that when digested by your horse, will help to keep flies away? These supplements help the horse to excrete certain chemicals though their skin that ward off the flies. If you don’t want the hassle of messing with other fly control products, this method would make your horse a living, breathing, walking fly repellant!

The supplements will even help to turn their poop into repellant! Flies start their lives as larvae living in horse manure, so naturally, poop is very important to a fly’s livelihood. If the manure can ward off the flies and rid them of their breeding grounds, you will make gains in lessening the fly population.

I once knew a horse that was allergic to flies. He would get hives across his body and he would lose patches of hair during the fly season. I always think about how much more happy that horse would’ve been if they could’ve been fed a simple supplement that would keep the flies away.

Here’s a list of the top supplements or mixtures to use to help your horse naturally repel flies:

Apple Cider Vinegar

It’s no secret that apple cider vinegar is good for you, whether you’re a horse or a human. Some people are iffy to feed their horses supplements because they don’t know what the supplements are made of and how it will affect the horse’s body (to read more about natural remedies, click here.) Raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is all-natural, meaning there’s nothing left up to question.

Apple cider vinegar helps to repel flies in a number of ways; when digested, it helps the horse excrete certain chemicals that keep flies away. The acidity of the vinegar also helps to break down food more thoroughly. This will take the protein out of horse poop that flies love.

Put the apple cider vinegar in your horse’s water bucket or even over their feed to ensure digestion. If you’d like to try some apple cider vinegar for your horse, click here to go to Amazon.

Farnum Simplify With LarvaStop

Farnum Simplify With LarvaStop works much the same way as apple cider vinegar does. According to Amazon, it prevents the development of flies in manure as well as an insect growth regulator which limits the bug’s life span.

This particular supplement comes in pellet form which can simply be mixed in with your horse’s feed. In order to work properly, the horse must be continually treated. Farnum recommends starting your horse on the supplement during the early Spring and continuing until just after the cold season starts. This will ensure that your horse is protected during fly season.

Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Fly Garlic Granules

Are you looking for another natural yet effective supplement for your horse to help rid them of flies? I recommend trying the Hilton Herbs Bye Bye Fly Garlic Granules.

This particular supplement provides many healthy minerals and vitamins to your horse. These certain vitamins will help your horse to excrete chemicals that will deter flies, much like apple cider vinegar. The specific garlic ingredient helps your horse to have a stronger immune system and a more balanced digestive system.

Invest in Manure Management Around Stables and Pastures

One of the most beneficial things you can do in order to not only keep flies out of your barnyard but also to make for an overall healthier stable is to crack down on manure management. This can be a daunting task since horses poop…alot!

Flies love to lay eggs in horse poop; manure is vital to the existence of these awful bugs. When you remove the manure from the equation, then the flies have nowhere to reproduce; hence, the population will dwindle.

Here’s how you can manage your manure problem:

Muck Out Stalls Frequently

One of the best ways to keep flies out of your stable is by regularly cleaning out stalls. Flies tend to congregate and breed around poop, so if you remove it from the equation, you’ll automatically help to eliminate flies. At a minimum, stalls should be cleaned once a day, but the more frequent the better.

For mucking out stalls, you’ll need a pitchfork and wheelbarrow. Check out the Little Giant Farm Durafork and the Rubbermaid Yard Cart on Amazon if you’re looking for these products. I find that any product that has to do with horses needs to be durable, and that’s exactly what these two products are!

Keep the Manure Pile Far Away From the Stables

Another way to keep flies away from your stables and pastures is to move the manure pile far away. The manure pile is considered a fly’s haven, as there are endless amounts of manure. If this pile is close to the barn or the pastures, the fly population will naturally drift into these areas.

Another way to control the fly population around the manure pile is to use a tarp to cover the pile. Another thing flies thrive on is moisture. If you mix moisture from the elements with a giant poop pile, you’ll have a fly frenzy. A tarp (like this one on Amazon) will help to not only keep the moisture away from the manure but also help to keep the flies from escaping the manure pile.

Drag Pastures Regularly

One reason you find so many flies out in the horse pasture is because of the buildup of manure. If you have pastures with a lot of horses and that isn’t rotated, this is likely to happen. To help control the manure amount, regularly drag your fields with a drag like the Field Tuff Heavy Duty Drag.

A drag is literally dragged behind a tractor. It helps to break up the piles of manure in the pastures. When the manure is broken up and spread out, it will deteriorate much more quickly. This will keep flies from having places to lay eggs and feast.

Knowing how to care for your horse and keep flies away comes with owning a horse. If you’d like to know more helpful products that can serve you as a horse owner, check out our article, New Horse Owner Shopping List (Everything You’ll Need.)

(P.S. Did you know I’m on Youtube? Subscribe to my channel here for weekly horse videos!)

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Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

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