*all products shared at bottom of page!
It is already sweltering at the barn in Georgia. We’re really limited to riding in mornings and evenings now, and the bugs are out in full force. The ground is hard since we haven’t had rain. Why was I crying from the cold this spring?! We do this every year! That aside, this isn’t my first rodeo, nor is it my first rodeo with a thin-skinned, New-York bred, Thoroughbred who is repulsed by bugs. So. I have to restock my summer products and will share what I use and why. Please consult with your veterinarian, and any of my theories and tricks are not derived from studies but personal opinion and experience.
So, bugs are out in full force. My barn actually does a great job at keeping the fly levels low in the barn, but Frye’s demons live in the woods in her paddock. Between deer flies, ticks, and swarming things she’s their prime candidate. But, it’s also sweltering hot. I have to be really picky about the fly sheet I use or she’ll overheat. I do advise all of my southern friends, do NOT use a cotton-based fly sheet on your ponies . There is a really popular one, that I do like for its durability and its great in the spring and fall to keep ponies clean, but horses come in sweating every morning. I prefer the mesh sheets. The most durable and cool would be the Rambo Fly Sheet; it’s out of my price range so I purchase the WeatherBeeta AirFlow for my own horses.
In fly spray departments, frustratingly my mare cannot handle the more popular fly sprays that are oil-based. My favorite oil-based is the Pyranha Fly Spray, and I can use it on my other horses with no issue. For my TB mare, one of the few that doesn’t break out her skin is this natural Espree Fly Spray.
HACK: We know the summer months can be hard on your horses’ feet, this is exasperated by stomping. I love fly boots. I actually haven’t had much of a problem with them coming off, and if they get dirty they are easy to rinse off and dry. My mare goes out in them every afternoon.
As much as I do want my horses to keep their dark, shiny coats, unless they are wearing a fly-sheet 24-7, they are going to bleach out. I don’t mind this so much. Daily curry, good nutrition, and a careful skin care routine can still pull off a shiny coat. Consider your own “hair wash” days, bathing your horse every day wish harsh soaps, or soap at all, can strip oils from the skin/hair. This will eventually lead the coat to become dull. I do use a soap to wash legs after every ride to rid any bacteria and sweat. (Always towel dry after.) But, I may limit a “soapy” bath to once, maybe twice a week. Obviously if your horse is caked in sweat and dirty, bathe your horse. But, use your own “personal” hygiene and person-hair care knowledge on your horse’s hair coat. Use only as much soap as needed to rid dirt; a sudsy bath is just going to remove oil from your horse’s coat along with the dirt and sweat. To maintain the horse’s natural moisture, I curry regularly and I LOVE using the coat conditioners like Healthy Hair Care and Equyss Products. I’m not convinced some shine sprays don’t actually exacerbate dry coats. Alcohol-based sprays are going to strip oil and dry out your horse’s skin. (Again, take a cotton ball of alcohol to your skin. What’s in your moisturizer and conditioner? Not parabens, dyes, and fragrances, right?) But, I love the two brands before that are great conditioners. For a good spot cleaners I may do an ACV rinse, or spray as well.
Treating a bug bite is the worst. My poor mare has a few spots I’ve been treating. My go-tos for after treatment is a Manuka Honey Based vet cream, Silver Honey Rapid Wound Care and Coat Defense powder.
During the summer months its not uncommon for the farrier to be called for lost shoes, hoof cracks to spring, and stone bruises to pop up as the ground hardens. (At least we are hard as a rock in Georgie.) I really believe a strong hoof comes from the inside out, meaning quality nutrition. I can’t remember the last time my mare stepped out of a shoe, and we were at one point in glue ons due to her poor feet. I’ve been feeding StableFeed for years now!
Topically, I also use a few more products and tricks. During the summer, we’re also bathing/rinsing our horses way more if not after every ride. Aside from applying a hoof oil/salve before rides, I always apply a hoof conditioner to the hoof before I bathe/rinse my horse. This acts as a barrier. My favorites are the Farrier’s Fix and Farnam’s Horse Shoer Secret. I have read that these topical ointments don’t penetrate that far into the hoof, but I do believe that by applying before baths you can keep protect the hoof from too much moisture.
If your horse does develop stone bruises, my go to is Keratex Hoof Hardener. This is only applied to the soles, I’ve seen really quick results and it’s a staple in my tack box. My mare now wears pads, but this is great for your barefoot horse or horse without pads.
Again, I also use fly boots which keep my horse from stomping. This limits some of the wear and tear of their shoes and feet! IMO.