As ever, we are busy fighting the flies this summer. The ponies often get quite nasty bites but thankfully that hasn’t happened yet this year. Fingers crossed that it will stay that way. I did try a deet fly spray for the first time but it made Cookster’s skin peel a bit so I have gone back to the plain citronella version which does seem to be pretty effective too.
More of an issue than the bites is Cookster’s eyes. A combination of flies and his long forelock mean that they can get quite weepy. The fly mask obviously helps with that but often I go out to find the ponies looking like this.
Then of course, I have to go off and find the missing mask. Cookster spent a whole day without his mask this week which led to slightly swollen eyelids and a fair bit of discharge. That prompted me to plait his forelock up – it keeps it out of his eyes and definitely makes a huge difference as they are fully back to normal again. I like to think that it makes him look a bit like a unicorn too.
Sometimes I quite welcome the wet and windy days – there are far fewer flies about then!
It seems that the fly season is upon us already. We have had to fish the deosect out of the tack room and have sprayed the ponies. Galahad hates fly spray so he didn’t enjoy it at all but at least deosect doesn’t need to be applied so often.
The fly masks are back out as well. It seems very peculiar to have Galahad’s rug on at the same time but it’s still pretty cold here at night and not warm enough to leave it off yet. He is enjoying the time without it during the day though.
Of course, all of this means that hunting for lost fly masks in odd corners of the field is once again a regular part of my life. That’s how I’ll be spending the next few months!
Every summer we are bothered by the flies but this year they seem to be even worse than usual.
Galahad had pretty much destroyed his mask now. The ears, however, are still intact so I am very happy indeed. It has also lasted much longer than his old mask so it was definitely a good investment.
As ever, we are using deosect – Galahad hates being sprayed and anything that can reduce the amount of flyspray we have to use is a bonus. NAF’s citronella gel is also great for this.
This year we have also gained some of their citronella wash which we use when we wash the ponies down after exercise. It is certainly much easier than trying to spray Galahad – although he has improved greatly and sometimes barely moves whilst he is sprayed. Other times, of course, he kicks up a huge fuss!
I have also taken to soaking the fly masks in the citronella water. As you can see, they can get covered in flies and although the ponies are protected from them it can’t be at all pleasent. It certainly doesn’t look nice.
I mentioned last week that the flies were being very bothersome. The next day Galahad came in from the field looking like this.
I thought at first that he was just incredibly scruffy but when I looked closer I realised that he was in fact covered with fly bites.
He does have a tendency to react badly to bites – every year he gets lumps where he has been bitten. Never so many at once though. I can only assume that he rolled on something which fought back!
Thankfully he didn’t seem bothered by the bites and didn’t react at all when they were touched. Within a couple of days they had started to go down and they are now almost completely gone. They can’t have been nice though. Poor little pony.
I have mentioned before the trouble we have with fly masks. Firstly, the ponies are constantly losing them. Secondly, they tear many holes in the ears. Since the main reason they wear them is because they get terrible bites inside their ears, the holes make the masks practically useless.
This week I decided to do something about it so I marched into our local tack shop and demanded a mask with heavy duty ears. I came away with a LeMieux one which has two layers of nice thick fabric on the ears and which will hopefully do the trick.
Galahad has been wearing it now for three days and has managed to lose it three times.
However, so far the ears have no holes at all so I am very hopeful.
I have never owned anything from LeMieux before – I feel like a proper equestrian!
The ponies are constantly escaping from their fly masks. At the moment it is just a fact of life that when I go out to see them the chances of them both wearing hats are fairly slim.
When we first put them on this year they actually managed not to remove them for a couple of weeks and I was very hopeful I would have a summer without having to walk round the fields hat hunting.
Obviously that is not going to happen but I have found I can make use of the ponies – or at least Cookster – to find them.
As you can see, Cookster is great at this game. Me – less so!
I haven’t tried it with Galahad yet – mainly because I haven’t had the chance. I’m sure it is something which will scare him at first but it’s probably quite a good exercise to try and it might even help us with our trec obstacles. Plus, it’s fun!
I think that spring can definitely be said to be here. We have had some beautiful days this week – the sun has been shining and things are beginning to blossom.
I’ve talked about the primroses before but it is a really good year for them!
I have been routinely riding without a coat and have even brought my short boots out from their winter retirement. It has been a lovely week.
There is a downside though – the flies are suddenly about in droves. It was only a few weeks ago that we were covered in snow. How can we possibly need the fly masks already?!
Usually by this point in the year I have written at least one post about battling the flies, if not more. This year we have had much less trouble but part of the reason for that is that the ponies spent so long away from home!
As usual the ponies are in their fly masks, although they seem to spend more time escaping from them than actually wearing them. I have four at the moment – two are fairly decent, one only has one ear and the other is almost unusable but is useful in an emergency. If I don’t have time to traipse round the field looking for lost masks I do at least have backup!
I have also been trying NAF’s citronella gel which appears to have been very effective. It is obviously more labour intensive than a spray but given how much Galahad hates the spray I am more than happy with it. For one thing, I don’t have to persuade him it is safe which is a great time saver!
One of the reasons I have been enjoying riding early in the morning is that there are usually less flies then. That’s not always the case though – Cookster and I were bombarded the other day and I had to resort to sticking some elder leaves in his browband. They seemed to work pretty well – when he shook his head one side fell out and after that there were definitely more flies on that side.
Overall we do seem to be winning the battle and it has definitely seemed less of a hassle this year. The system must be working!
We are getting towards the end of the fly season (hopefully!) but we are still working hard to fight them off. Battling the flies is probably the hardest thing about horse ownership. I had a few bad years where Galahad got nasty bites which didn’t seem to cause him any pain but looked horrid. Thankfully we have had a couple of good years now where that hasn’t happened. I put that down to my being much better organised at treating the ponies with deosect once a month instead of just spritzing them with fly spray every day.
The trouble is that Galahad hates the spray bottle. He has improved immensely – I used to have to sponge the fly spray or deosect all over him. Now I can actually spray him although he still has good days and bad. Some days he stands like a rock, others he completely panics. At the beginning of the summer he climbed up this giant step to avoid being sprayed. Needless to say, I no longer attempt to spray him there!
We did try using garlic in the ponies’ feed as well but Galahad did not like it and would just leave it. Strangely, he does like the garlic Horslyx – although as he only gets that as an occasional treat I don’t suppose it does much to put off the flies!
Last week the ponies had a visit from the farrier. Neither of them are shod so they only get a trim and are now very good and standing still for him. Galahad was never a problem – I think he was too worried to move to start with! Cookster is fine now but did used to get bored and start to make a fuss. He probably still gets bored but he can deal with it better now. It may also help that we keep his feet a little longer as he can get a bit footsore.
The farrier also noticed our fly zapper and when we mentioned how much the ponies hate the noise it makes – they still haven’t got used to it and will stand out in the blazing sunshine rather than the shade of the stable – he suggested an alternative.
This apparently acts a bit like a Venus fly trap. It is already hung up in the stable and is certainly starting to catch some flies. Hopefully it will turn out to be effective. The ponies are already happy to be in the stables again which is excellent news given the mini heatwave over the last couple of days!