It’s fly season in the pasture. And they are BAD this year. Flies, mosquitoes, rain and heat make for a steamy, buggy combination. There are several kinds of biting insects that go after the horses:

  • Big old horse flies that latch on to a horse’s skin and won’t let go. They have a vicious scissor-like bite that usually leaves a painful welt. I’ve read that they can zero in on a horse from a mile away.
  • Deer flies that hide out under cool bellies or relentlessly nip at legs
  • Face flies that hover around eyes and nostrils and are extremely irritating.
  • Mosquitoes that carry all kinds of diseases.
To name just a few…

All of these “dears” go after humans too. Part of our nightly horse ritual is dousing ourselves with insect repellant and giving the horses a once-over with fly spray.


Pepper used to fidget when she saw the orange fly spray bottle. She’s not fond of new things. Suspicious is her middle name. Now that she’s figured out that we aren’t going to kill her, she’s calmed down. In fact, I think the cool spray feels good to her on these beastly hot days.


Bud, on the other hand, seems completely oblivious to the process. As long as he has a pan of grain to munch on, I think we could do any number of things to him and he wouldn’t notice or care. Bud is much more easygoing than you-know-who.


Some of the horses wear fly masks to protect them from those pesky flies. Years ago we tried these masks with our two old sweeties. We lovingly put them on Bud and Pepper, proud of ourselves for being so kind and considerate. The next day when we showed up to feed, we found two horses with bare faces. The masks were nowhere in sight. After doing a modified grid search of the pasture, we found the fly masks, cast aside. I swear Bud must have helped Pepper remove her mask and then she returned the favor for him. We tried it one more time, with the same result.

“Okay, we get it. You don’t want to wear a fly mask.”


Our horses prefer the time-honored horse methods of fly control. That would be rolling in the dust or mud, stamping their feet, tossing their head, and swishing their tails. They tolerate our attempts to control the flies with spray. They maybe even like it. But deep in their sweet horse hearts, I suspect they smile at our feeble efforts. After all, horses have been dealing with flies in the wild for a very long time.