Health & DietHorse

Savvy Spraying: Select the Right Fly Spray for the Task at Hand

As horse owners, we typically have our go-to products—a preferred leather cleaner, our favorite horse shampoo, and of course, a trusted fly spray. While having favorites is all good and well, relying on the same fly spray throughout the entire season or over multiple years can present an issue: it might not be the most suitable product for the task at hand. That’s right, there are different types of fly spray suited for different jobs, scenarios, and even weather.

When flies start to swarm, grab a fly spray that is suited for the job at hand. Grubarin/

From formulas designed for hot weather to sweat-resistant solutions and eco-friendly alternatives, understanding the nuances of different fly sprays is key to effective pest control and horse care. So how do you choose the right fly spray for the job? Read our guide to spray smart and keep your horse comfortable when the flies start to flock.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

If you live in a humid area where your horse just can’t stay dry even when he’s not in work, then sweat resistance is your friend. A fly spray that’s sweat-resistant is also your go-to product for those “wet saddle blanket” days when your horse works up a sweat while training or competing.

When your horse is going to work up a sweat, or the humidity means he sweats off any fly spray you apply, get a spray that works as hard as you do. Mosquitos are often a nuisance during the summer, and in humid areas. So a sweat-resistant spray that can also repel mosquitos that might carry West Nile, is a win-win. A formula that is designed to defy sweat, will also be long-lasting and stay active, even in the rain.

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When It Actually Is the Heat

For areas where the summer sun beats down in an unrelenting fashion, and you need to beat the heat, you can bet there’s a fly spray for that. During the sweltering summer months, flies and insects are particularly active. Opting for a fly spray designed specifically for hot, dry weather can provide your horse with extended protection against these persistent pests. These formulations often boast increased potency and longevity to combat the heightened insect activity characteristic of warm climates. This type of fly spray will also be ideal to apply to your horse during turnout, and can even give your horse’s coat a shine without using an oil-based product.

Temperature has a lot to do with the number of flies and how aggressive they are. The hottest months of the year – July, August, and September – are when these pests are at their peak. A fly spray formulated for warm, sunny, and dry areas will knock down biting insects, especially when designed with multiple different pyrethroids. When it’s time for a training session in your hot and dry location, opt for a proven performer that’s effective under normal conditions.

Old Faithful

At the peak of summer, when flies are out in full force and you need to bring out the heavy-hitter, reach for a tried and tested fly spray. Depending on the rest of your fly control measures, late summer/early fall can mean dealing with swarms of hungry flies and mosquitoes! Rely on an old faithful during the season’s most challenging conditions. Maintain the effectiveness of this type of fly spray by keeping it on deck for the peak of fly season, and rotating through other options the rest of the spring and summer.

Going Green

One of the first things to consider when choosing a fly spray is the number of flies in your area. In the spring, temperatures are mild in many parts of the country (50°-80°F) and fly numbers may still be on the low side. This is a great opportunity to go with a formula that’s not advertised as “ultimate” or “extreme” since it’s not needed yet. For example, an eco-friendly green formula, with multiple essential oils, is powerful enough to repel low numbers of flies, mosquitoes, and even gnats for up to eight hours. And you can feel good using it.

Try out a natural alternative that prioritizes natural ingredients. Photo courtesy of Ultrashield.

With a growing emphasis on sustainability and eco-conscious practices, many horse owners are turning to green fly sprays that prioritize natural ingredients. So when fly season is just getting underway, and mild temperatures are on your side, it’s a great time to try out a green option for your fly spray. Reaching for an all-natural fly spray isn’t just about feeling good for going green. It gives you a powerful tool in your toolbox to repel flies naturally from your horse, while also being safe enough to use on your dog, ponies, and foals. This environmentally-friendly fly spray can offer effective pest control without compromising on safety or environmental impact.

Consider This

Although you probably have a favorite brush, manure fork, or any number of horse products that you reach for time and time again, consider mixing up your fly spray options. Using the same fly spray all the time isn’t just a missed opportunity to choose the right spray for the given scenario. It can also set the stage for insects to become resistant to the ingredients. Experts recommend to rotate between different classes of fly sprays to prevent insects from developing resistance to a specific active ingredient over time.

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Unless flies are at their worst and you need superior protection, choose different fly sprays for different challenges. Turning your horse out on a hot and humid day? Reach for a sweat-resistant formula. Going on a trail ride with the dog and the whole family on a cool spring day? Choose an all-natural, eco-safe fly repellent. Time for a training session in your hot and dry location? Opt for a proven performer that’s effective under normal conditions.

When you’re shopping for your next faithful fly spray, consider a few different factors. What time of year is it? Are flies at their peak activity, or do you need to be using the heavy hitter just yet? Is your area dry, or do you battle humidity? Are you looking for a fly spray for turnout, or intense workouts where your horse is sure to work up a sweat? All of these considerations can help you spray smart by choosing the right fly spray for the job.

[5 Things to Consider in the Fight Against Flies]

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