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The summer months can result in horse pastures and yards becoming riddled with biting insects.
Thankfully, innovative equine equipment manufacturers have a huge range of fly-related products on offer for horses and ponies to help keep the flies at bay.
Whether your horse is sensitive to fly bites, suffers from sweet itch, or their coat gets bleached by the sun, applying a well-fitting fly rug is a great way to combat potential problems.
The first task when selecting a fly rug is to measure your horse or pony, so you can choose a rug which will offer both comfort and protection. Measuring your horse or pony for a fly rug is a simple task. Firstly, tie your horse up in a safe spot and then using a tape measure – or a piece of string you can measure later - measure your horse from the centre of his chest (where the rug would do up at the front closure), horizontally along his side, finishing at the point of his tail. Remember if your horse is between sizes, you’re usually better to go up a size than down. Sizes for rugs are in feet and inches, e.g. 5ft 6”, 5ft 9” etc.
When selecting a fly rug, the comfort of the rug is optimum. Look for a design which is lightweight, flexible and well-fitted. For the best possible protection, choose a rug which offers a long tail guard and belly flap.
Some fly rugs for horses and ponies also offer excellent protection from the onset of sweet itch - look out for generous body protection with integrated neck sections, belly flaps and large tail flaps. Benefits like deep cut, adjustable belly sections, and adjustable chest and fillet straps are desirable, as is a lined area at the upper neck and chest.
If your horse or pony is kept in the field, make sure you regularly remove the droppings from his field and when stabled. Un-removed piles of manure provide the ideal spot for flies to feed and lay their eggs.
If your horse is struggling with the amount of flies present during the day time, why not consider turning him out at night time in his fly rug, to avoid the worst of the biting bugs and annoying midges?
Equine sweat attracts flies, so wash your horse off scrupulously after exercise to remove any sweaty patches. Many insects are most prevalent at sunrise or sunset, so where possible, avoid riding at these times.
You may also like to choose a fly mask, in addition to a fly rug. The majority of fly masks are simply labelled as either size Pony, Cob or Full. Luckily, the Velcro straps seen on almost all fly masks allow the protective headgear to be relatively adjustable! The main consideration when choosing a fly mask if whether your horse or pony requires protective ear and nose extensions to the traditional eye-covering design. If your equine has particularly sensitive ears or suffers from sweet itch, a mask that includes ear guards is wise; likewise if your horse has a pink nose, a nose cover is essential to prevent sunburn.