Summer is dry, hot, and the perfect breeding ground for nasty bugs that drive us all completely mental. Now that I have three horses living with me, I refuse to let the barn or the horses become overrun by flies. However, that concept is easier said than done. This segment is about how I have slowly chipped away at the amount of flies in the barn. Below you will find the materials I use, a description of the horses, and a breakdown of the day!
Feed: I feed four times a day. For convenience, the horses get fed half their hay in the morning with smaller meals throughout the day. I chose to do this in order to prevent large amounts of hay sitting for too long. Flies love to play in the feed tubs and in the hay itself. Smaller meals help to ensure a clean stall.
Barn maintenance: Picking up poop as frequently as possible cuts down the flies significantly. No poop, no flies in my book. It’s a lot of work but, the horses stay clean and the yard has less flies because of it.
Grooming: Grooming before sheets slows the filth level of the blankets. It also helps to maintain flies because your ponies are much cleaner and you can discover scratches or wounds (like Lila bites on Norman). Cleaning and covering cuts eliminates festering fly piles on wounds.
Fly sheets: HorseWare created the Rambo Fly Buster, No Fly Zone Sheet with Vamoose Technology. Both Autumn and Norman sport these fabulous creations. Retailing for $200, this warm weather warrior is all you need. Weaved, unique HorseWare fabric allows for maximum UV protection, movement, and comfort. The features I enjoy the best are the oversized tail flap and the surcingles. The flap doesn’t allow tail rubbing and the surcingles fit so well that I never have to worry about naps or turn outs being a leg snag risk. Norman lives in his when the sun is up in order to keep him from not only the flies, but also from Lila’s bites. Autumn is only dressed in the afternoons until sunset for strictly fly protection. Since she is always a sweaty mess in our heat, I appreciate the breathability and limited sweat zones the sheet has.
Fly mask: Noble Outfitters newly improved Guardsman Mask retails for $25. This stylish piece of head gear is absolutely Autumn’s favorite item. The Flex Spline Technology forms a canopy like formation in the mask keeping the fabric away from her eyes. The shape and fit prevent flies from entering any of the crevasses. The durable UV protective material is perfect for a deist two year old. Every so often she manages to get it removed. However, she usually keeps it on knowing that the flies can’t get in it to make her eyes water!
Fly spray: Ultra Shield is a top of the line fly repellent, retailing for $20 at 32oz. This stuff is not only a repellent, it’s an insecticide. It’s mean to last for 16 days through sweat and weather. However, I have found that it lasts more like 16 hours. Which is great considering I spray for the day but, I think I’ll keep my options open for a natural one considering I’ll have to apply it daily anyway.
About The Horses
Autumn: 2 year old piggy. She loves her food, will eat 6lbs of hay in less than two hours, and won’t leave a leaf behind (she literally licks everything clean). Stays clean all of the time, only pees in her stall before breakfast and poops on the right of the run, sometimes the left. Will stand in pee if left unattended and will stand indoors on shavings when it’s too hot. Sweats a lot and needs her mane braided because if that. Hates flies like a crazy thing, hates sprays too. Keeping up on her grooming is essential to keeping her minimal fly friends away.
Lila: Age unknown, slime puff. She also is a normal mare that freaks out for food. Loves to throw her bin around and toss her food all over the place. Not the worlds fastest eater but, still pretty quick and won’t typically leave hay out too long. Rarely pees or stays in stall. Poops whenever she wants to in the run and will walk all over it if she gets antsy. Usually good about not rolling or stepping in it though. She is snotty right now so, she’s very dirty 90% of the time. Does whatever she wants, whenever she wants, unless I’m involved. She attacks flies but, she doesn’t trust me enough yet to spray her with fly repellent “just because” but, we are working on it.
Norman: 7 year old fly magnet. He only really loves Alfalfa so, he eats his Timothy when absolutely necessary. Very clean eater. Will poop in stall and smash it all over the place when Lila is in the run or just when he feels like it. I must clean his feet three times a day to prevent the run and stall poop from eating his feet. Spooks at most everything when in his stall. Must dress for flies in run or crossties. Will also spook at flies; excessively spooky with fly mask on.
Daily Battle Schedule
8 am after pony breakfast (all still eating):
Autumn 6lbs; Lila 3.5 lbs; Norman 10lbs – All half and half of Timothy and Alfalfa
Autumn: Clean out pee patch in shavings, clean right side of run (four to five piles of poop). Let wet mat air dry. Lead out to arena, clean hooves, and put on fly mask. Check gut sounds.
Lila: Don’t need to clean stall or run, clean arena instead, where she sleeps for now (four little piles of poop). Place breakfast bucket in tub to prevent spillage on stall floor.
Norman: Sweep up poop, chucks of dirt, and dirt/shavings mixture. Bring Norman out to run. Groom him, clean hooves, clean any scrapes, spray legs with fly spray, and wipe fly spray on face (he is scared of this). Clean run five to six piles of poop. Check gut sounds.
Noon: Autumn 3lbs, Lila 1.5lbs, and Norman 5lbs Alfalfa
Autumn (in arena): Feed lunch. Put on fly sheet, spray legs, and adjust fly mask.
Lila: Feed lunch. Clean face, dust off body. Try to spray with fly spray. Reorganize messy stall and sweep up hay, shake it out and put back in tub. Clean two-three plies of poop in run.
Norman: Feed lunch. Sweep dust out of stall. Clean up four to five piles of poop and take down run.
4:00: Autumn 3lbs, Lila 1.5lbs, and Norman 5lbs Timothy
Autumn: Brush out and clean hooves in arena. Lead into stall. Feed, add water to bring down dust. Clean four piles of poop out of the arena.
Lila: Feed, add water. Add water to bucket. Clean two piles of poop out of run.
Norman: Lead out to arena. Feed, water down for dust control. Add water to water tub. Clean out hooves. Sweep out stall and clean three piles of poop.
7:30: Buckets for all
Autumn: Feed bucket in hay tub.
Lila: Feed bucket in hay tub.
Norman: Feed bucket in hay tub.
8:30: Last hurrah
Autumn: Take off fly gear. Dust off. Clean two to three piles of poop. Check gut sounds.
Lila: Groom and clean face. Reorganize stall, sweep shavings. Pick up one to two piles of poop. Walk out to arena. Clean out three to four piles of poop.
Norman: Clean hooves out in arena. Lead to stall. Take off fly gear and dust body.
Everyday I repeat these tasking chores to prevent flies from overrunning the barn. Between short meals to prevent flies playing in hay, spray on feet and corona on cuts to help stop fly piles, and fly blankets to keep the flies at bay, the horses are happier and cleaner than ever!