A List of Pests to Avoid for Horses and Riders

With the world on edge about health concerns like the Coronavirus, it is more important than ever to maintain good health and hygiene for both you and your horse.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reassured horse owners that there is no evidence that the virus can spread to horses, however, a primer on good health and hygiene is always important for other health problems.

Here are some of the most common pests to be aware of for both riders and horses alike.

Equine Pests

Insects that latch on or swarm horses not only cause a mild annoyance, but over long periods cause stress and health problems. Ultimately, these small irritants can dramatically affect a horse’s performance and well-being.

The tell-tale signs of a pest problem are:

  • Repetitive and nervous stomping
  • Tail switching
  • Kicking
  • Fidgeting

The possible causes can vary between flies, lice, or gnats, but the basic prevention techniques remain largely the same:

  • Sanitation: The constant removal of manure will clear the area of face flies, horn flies, and stable flies.
  • Water Maintenance: Hidden puddles and collections of water are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, so the constant emptying of containers and gutters is essential.
  • Physical Protection: Fly masks and rugs can provide relief, especially for horses that spend more time outside than in the stables. Not only do fly masks stop flies, but they also provide UV protection.
  • Insecticides: With the approach of summer it may be necessary to consider insecticides for the fly season. While there is a dizzying array of mists, fogs, and traps to choose from, helpful guides like this one can help you find the best one for you.

Human Pests

While it is important to ensure the health and happiness of your horse, it is equally critical to avoid pests that can ruin a leisurely hack or a competition-level event for you as well. By promoting your health outside the ring, you can improve your performance within it, and avoid transferring any negative emotions to your horse.

Self-care vigilantly with the following tips to ensure nothing disturbs your ride:

  • On the ride: Many of the pests that bother horses are also equally interested in humans. Flies, mosquitoes, and ticks, unfortunately, enjoy biting and sucking our blood just as much as horses. Many insect repellent sprays can protect both you and your horse from unwanted attention, but for the more elegant look, a rider fly whisk could be the way to go. More generally proper riding gear for the legs can make the difference when it comes to avoiding ticks out in long grass.
  • At the stables: Most hygiene techniques used for horses in the stables also promote good rider health. The clearing of manure and puddles of water also prevents people from being bitten by water-born insects.
  • At home: If you have other pets like dogs, it is also important that you check them for pests too. House pets spread ticks or fleas as they jump from pets to owners, and also to other animals like horses. Even simple bed bugs can cause disruption for horse lovers. Call Bed Bug Exterminator Pro if you have an infestation and you’re worried about it spreading to the other animals on the property.

Overall Health

While some people might think pesky insects are only minor irritations, horse owners should know better: flies found around horses and stables carry equine sleeping sickness and viral infections. What may begin as simple bites can turn into serious health hazards, so follow the self-care steps above to protect both you and your animals.