How do I battle the bugs while on the trail?
There are few things worse than going through a hail storm of bugs and flies when you are riding in the summer. Luckily for modern science, some ingenious contraptions, and a bit of weather luck you can make it tolerable for everyone. The key is to do many things, to fend off the many types of bugs and flies out there.
You can help your horse out a bit by just letting him have a long and free flowing tail. Ditch the tail bags so his built in fly swatter has maximum impact. Longer manes can also help here, as long as the mane doesn’t get tangled in your reins.
Of course you are already following fly control protocols for all states of the fly life cycle, (more on that here) which helps a lot around the barn! But add a layer of fly spray before you hit the saddle and venture out. Home made varieties, store bought formulas, and the newer fatty acid versions are all options.
Fatty acids are used to confuse bugs and camoflauge your horse!
Now do some creative dressing of your horse before you head out.
- Fly bonnets are super to keep bugs away from ears.
- There are fly masks specially designed for riding, they fit right over the bridle. Super thin and very effective!
- Riding fly sheets are designed to cover your horse front to back while being ridden. Lots of designs out there, including zebra print!
- Bust out the tassels. Attach them to your horse’s girth (if appropriate) and reins to help shoo flies away.
- Bust out the fly whisk. These are made of horse hair attached to a wooden handle with a loop for your wrist. Carry when riding and help your horse swat away the bugs.
A fly whisk - easy to carry and help your horse swat!
For you -
- Dress in light colors.
- Long sleeves are best, and also provide sun protection. Bug bites are even worse on sunburn…
- Try and ride when the weather is not bug friendly - wind and rain are your friend!
- Also do some research on when the bugs are out… mosquitos are dusk and dawn, but many flies are mid day. Of course.
- Ride indoors if you can, sometimes this helps with the bugs.
A specially designed fly sheet (in two pieces) that attaches to your saddle for a nice bug free ride.
How do you deal with the bug onslaught during summer riding?