Tag Archives: Ontario

Beating the barnyard bugs the natural way – how to make your own horse flyspray

There’s a fly in your eye…and many more on your horse! Spring has sprung and so have the bugs in the barn. There is nothing more annoying to a horse, whether while grooming or when riding, than having flies, mosquitoes and other annoying insects around.

I’d like to share a blog written by my good friend and fellow horse keeper, Michael Stuart Webb which gives us some homemade recipes for creating our own fly sprays:

“Much to our chagrin, and the dismay of our horses, fly season is once again upon us. At this time of year, many of us douse our beloved equine companions with ready-made, chemically based potions we pick-up at the tack shop. While many of these may work, they also introduce our horses to a myriad of toxic constituents that are oftentimes ingested and stockpiled in the soft tissues; awaiting opportunity to wreak havoc on our horse’s immune systems at a later date.

Fret not my fellow horse lovers! Available to us are easy-to-make, safe, non-toxic, homemade tinctures that work just as well and are cheaper! Below are some recipes you might want to try:

Citrus Insect Repellant

▪ 2 cups light mineral oil
▪ 1/2 cup lemon juice
▪ 2 tsp. pure citronella oil
▪ 2 tsp. eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 2 tsp. lemon dish soap

The Quick and Easy Fly Spray

▪ 4-7 parts water
▪ 1 part citronella essential oil

Apple Cider Tinture

▪ 1 quart raw apple cider vinegar
▪ 1 teaspoon citronella essential oil

Eucalyptus Oil Fly Spray

▪ 2 cups white vinegar
▪ 1 tablespoon eucalyptus essential oil
▪ 1 cup water

Dr. Mary Brennan’s Fly Spray Recipe

▪ 1/2 teaspoon oil of myrrh
▪ 2 cups water
▪ 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
▪ 1/4 teaspoon of pure citronella essential oil

* An important note about the citronella oil! Never buy citronella oil from the hardware store for these applications. These are meant for use in devices that burn the product and so they are oftentimes petroleum based and highly flammable. Buy all of your essential oils from your local, and trusted, health food store.

When applying these remedies, I use a small pump-style sprayer similar to those used to spray plants and trees with. Always exercise extreme caution when spraying these, or any products, on your horses so as to avoid getting any overspray into their eyes. When applying products to your horse’s head, it is always best to apply it first to your hands and then gentle wipe the product off onto your horse. Just like people, some horses display allergic reactions to some compounds, natural or not. If you should notice any irritation to your horse’s skin, immediately discontinue use and bathe your horse to remove any remaining product.”

So, before you head out to go horsebackriding or to visit your horse, pick up some of the ingredients above and try making your own flyspray. You’ll be happier, but more importantly, so will your horse.

Until next time,

There's a fly in my eye!

There’s a fly in my eye!

Moving on…searching for that special connection

I miss him.  Becks, my beloved horse who I said goodbye to on December 12, 2013.  Some people may think, “it was just a horse”, but to me, having gone through a few difficult years in my personal life, he was more than that.  He was my riding partner, he was my pet, but most of all, he was a shining light on some very dark days.  Saying goodbye to him was THE most difficult thing I have had to do since having my own horses since the age of 15.  When I lost him, I needed to take a break from riding – not from teaching or being around horses – but out of the saddle.

The first month was painful.  Walking past his empty stall, opening up my locker and seeing his things: his favourite brush, the special saddle pad with his name embroidered on it, the new bridle I had purchased in November, in anticipation of showing him this show season.  I kept everything as it was when he was here.  I didn’t move his cooler or blankets off his stall, nor did I erase his name off his stall sign.

As one month moved to two, I started to miss riding (even though it was February and I am really not a fan of cold weather riding;).  With the encouragement from two supportive horsey friends, Cindy and Debra, I dusted off my saddle and tacked up Sera, my 16 year old Quarterhorse who I have had since she was 2.  When I got “back in the saddle”, all I could think about was riding Becks, with his comfortable trot, smooth canter and all of the great rides we shared together.  With tears streaming down my face, I gave Sera a pat, thanked her for the ride and hopped off.  As much as I have always enjoyed riding Sera, we didn’t have that special bond.

A few months ago, in April, my friend, Sue, offered me the ride on her gelding, Disco.  I had always dreamed of having a big, gorgeous Warmblood to ride and now was my chance.  The only problem was that I had no connection to him even though I tried.  I would groom him, give him treats, ride him…but it wasn’t there.   I sent him back to Sue in June and at that time, I thought that maybe I would be taking a longer break from riding than I originally thought.

I have had a very busy summer – running Foxwood summer riding camp as well as coaching my students in lessons and at horseshows – and I have had time to reflect on WHY I ride.  Yes, I love galloping across the newly cut hay field beside my house just as much as I enjoy jumping in my large, grass outdoor riding ring…but not just on any horse.  It has to be on THAT horse.  The one I feel connected to.  The one who understands when I am having a bad day and won’t spook at the paperbag blowing across the ring as we ride.  The one who I can just bring into the barn and groom, and talk to.  The one who understands me as much as I understand him/her.

Becks has been gone now for 8 months and as much as I miss him, I also miss riding.  My tack needs be cleaned and oiled and my boots need to be shined up because I am ready to ride again:)!   It might not happen right away but I hope to find a new horse to connect with.  I know s/he can never replace Becks but it will be nice to have a new one to love.

Until next time,


P.S. – I’m going to look at “Toby” tomorrow.  Another Thoroughbred off the track…because that’s what I seem to connect with.  Wish me luck!