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Horse Care and Comfort

Natural fly repellent

Hello! 100 lessons completed

Does any one know of a good natural/herbal fly spray for horses?

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed

There are a number of formulas for "natural" fly spray. One is to use crushed garlic as well as vinegar. Don't think I want my horse to smell like a tossed salad! Pyrethrin is the most common commercial spray but can also be made at home if you want. Pyrethrin is a natural biodegradable material Take a look at this site for more information

Personally I use a commercial spray (not that you shouldn't look for the safest spray) but we also have a group of chickens that roam the stables and arenas picking out the fly larvae which helps keep down the fly population. We also use fly traps to also keep the population down. So far the most effective action has been the chickens. We had a large emergence of flies after a rain then warm weather. The chickens finally caught up and the fly population is now very manageable.

You can also buy fly predators that kill the fly larvae and eventually the flies are much less.
I also use a fly mask all summer and if the flies get out of hand I use a fly sheet on my horse. From experience, I would be as vigilant as possible with flies. I had a quarter horse mare as number of years ago and a fly bit her on the end of her tail and laid eggs, which caused a very serious infection. It was many months of constant cleaning and care of the tail so she would not have to have it amputated. So I make sure that whatever spray I use I make double sure I get the base of the tail to the end well coated. You can't see a small infection there until it is too late.

Hope this is not too much information and you have a better idea about sprays.


Miriam (Holland&Germany)
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Hi Dennis,
Thank you for your information about flies and repellents!
I never realised that chicken do eat the larvae, neither did I know about the infection you mention at the base of the tail of your mare. Reason enough to be really strict about keeping population down.
Let me acknowledge you for so much good information you post here at the forum, it's a joy to read your contributions.
Have a good summer with as little as possible flies!

Gen (Queensland, Australia)
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed

Hi all
That infection sounds terrible, I didn't know that was possible. Thanks for sharing that with us all Dennis.
When we first moved to the coast, we had terrible trouble with the flies. A friend suggested to me that I feed my horses sulphur in their feed as the rain kept washing the sprays off.
We own Quarter Horses and feed them 1 table spoon of sulpher per day in their feed. It took about 6 months for the sulphur to build up enough in their system before we no longer needed the sprays.
Now, the horses have no flies or ticks at all. I am just now starting our cattle on a special dry lick that contains sulphur in the hope that it will ease their harassment when summer returns.
See you later,

May - Holland
Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed

Hi Miriam,

You take the words out of my mouth (free translation from Dutch). I realy degree with you, Miriam. Dennis thank you, it is not only the one who asks, but I learn from your suggestions as well.
It's good to read that there are a lot of students on the forum/Uni who got there noses in the same direction. Also your experience Gen is good to read. Thank you all for this.
If we are keeping doing this, it gives us all the help we need when we are struggling with something. There is always somebody out there who has THE suggestion for you.
Joy, I hope your flies will fly away after these suggestions, good luck.
Kind regards May, from Holland.

Hello! 100 lessons completed 150 lessons completed 200 lessons completed 250 lessons completed 300 lessons completed

Thanks so much guys,

We live near the ocean and our land around us is very wet, thus lots of flys.
We had a flock of ducks which kept the fly problem really under control but then a fox found us and got most of the ducks and chickens, they are great for pest control.
That fox was so bold he even came up when we were very close !!!!

I bought some fly repellent for my horse this year and poor thing she is allergic to them all, her hair peels down to her black skin.

In the afternoon sun I bring her into her small pasture and she can walk into her stall, they don't bother her there.
That's all I can do.
Thank you Dennis, I'm going to try the natural one you suggested.

Hello! 100 lessons completed

I'm glad my question helped others as well!

Dennis, thanks for that website. I'll take a look. I have tried vinegar and it works but wears off quickly. I get good use out of my fly mask as they are always on the horses. Also, I will be extra diligent in spraying around my horses tail. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Gen, I'll try some sulfur. It sound like it won't help me out this summer but by next summer Ill have the horses prepared for fly season :)

Heres an other tip.Guinea hens, like chickens, are great insect eaters. Guinea hens are easier to keep then chickens though. So if you're not looking to get eggs, guinea hens are cleaner easier insect police!

Thanks for all the tips and thoughts everyone!

Joy :)

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A surprising great smelling and strong repellent for flies, mosquitos, ticks, and fleas is a solution of grapeseed oil 1/2 cup, mixed with 1/8 cup vegetable glycerin, 1/2 ounce natural essential oil of geranium, and 1/4 ounce natural essential oil of vanilla. Don't confuse this with vanilla extract. It is actual an essential oil and is somewhat pricey ($15+ for 1/4 ounce), it will make 2 gallons of spray though. stir the solution well then divide into 2 equal parts in a gallon sized glass or dark plastic container/jar with a tight fitting lid and add distilled water until a full gallon is reached. Close lid tightly and shake well. Now you can shake it again and make yourself some spray bottles that are clearly marked. It smells wonderful and REALLY works. Put it on yourself as well! I like to tear pieces of cotton off a worn t-shirt into long strips, saturate them in the solution, then tie 1-2 on the mane, bangs, and tail. This gives them longer protection while turned out. Just re-saturate as needed. You can all of these ingredients at your local natural foods store or order from

Hello! 100 lessons completed

medicinalarts, thats great to know! Ill have to try that too :)