What do you use for "biting insect repellent" on horses?


12 Years
Nov 7, 2007
Now that its finally getting a little warmer the "Skitters" and "all biting flies" are out in full force....we are surronded by swamps....
Our girls ...well mostly one mare is skittish around a spray bottle was wondering if anyone sponges on the repellent and if anyone has any home made reciepes for bug repellent...what works good for you?
It is worth getting the horse trained to accept spray bottles... but, you can use one of those fuzzy-outside-plastic-inside applicator mitts or homemade equivalent if you want, but DO NOT GET THE HORSE AT ALL 'WET' WITH THE REPELLANT. (For this reason, a sponge would be unwise).

Wetting the skin, which is to say wetting the hair to the point that it looks wet, can produce really bad skin reactions. Actually I've also seen a horse with colic and neurological symptoms from being wetted all over with flyspray, although nearly nobody is dumb enough to do *that*
(He recovered, but it was a bit iffy for a while, and he was not rideable for several weeks)

Our main problem here, unfortunately, is mosquitos and some blackflies... and truly the only spray that I have found to help is water-based citronella-smelling 'cheap' sprays like Bronco, applied EVERY AFTERNOON before dusk. (The pricier ones, like the red or black-label Absorbine fly sprays, work just about as well for the first 12 hrs, but no matter what the label says, they just DON'T repel mosquitos for longer than that, and IMO it is just not safe or intelligent to flout the label instructions by applying them every single day; whereas you can safely do that with the cheap water-based ones)

A fly sheet and fly mask help a lot. Also, if there is somewhere protected you can rig it, a strong barn-type fan that the horse(s) can stand in front of.

Good luck,

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Get yourself a spray bottle full of water. Then hatler your horse and hold the lead rope. DO NOT TIE YOUR HORSE. While holding the lead rope begin to spray your horse. As the horse moves you move with and never stop spraying. ONce the horse stops moving, you stop and praise. Repeat on both sides for several days or a couple times a day. Then you can spray your horse.

I have had a couple of older horses that have had issues with spraying their faces. Until I get them use to the spray, and because especially during tick season we do not let ours go without spray daily, we use a soap spunge that you would use to do dishes - the ones that have the handle to fill with liquid soap. Just fill with fly spray and it works great on faces.

As for flies, I like the Repel X. You can also get Wipe which is of course only to wipe on. Seems to work the best. With the way our horses sweat it out in the summer, a once a day application is needed. In all the years I have had horses I have never had an issue with fly spray being toxic used once a day. - Sometimes twice if a horse is worked mid day and bathed.
Yup, Repel-X and Wipe are both water-based, and like Bronco and Kentucky Whatevertherestofthenameis and other water-based formulas, can quite safely be used daily. (Not *under* a saddle pad right before riding though)

They still make Wipe? Cool. I grew up with that being practically the only good fly repellent there was. <insert nostalgic moment here>

I would agree with training because you never know when it's useful. In the meantime a water based fly spray probably would not be too bad applied directly. We used that on a mare that was sensitive to fly sprays and it was being wiped on so some areas looked damp. On most of the horses we use a cattle spray but we don't use it daily or even weekly most of the time. At the stable we have bats and barn swallows all over the place and it's rare to get bit by a mosquito and flies are at a hardly noticeable level. At my other property the bugs are horrid and I've been trying to attract barn swallows and putting up bat houses for more bats. If flies more than mosquitos are your problem there are fly predators and traps. There are mosquito traps but they are expensive because you have to produce some form of co2 to attract mosquitos. I have been debating them for here because you can't step outside without literally drenching yourself in some type of bug spray and then reapplying every hour. I buy sprays for dogs to use on us in order to avoid deet and some of the more toxic chemicals. Otherwise I'm sure we'd have overdosed on the stuff by now. Along with actually putting them on the dogs. Despite being double coated breeds and having lots of protection plus being used to the outdoors going horseback riding and hiking the dogs will actually refuse to go outside to pee due to the mosquitos unless I apply bug spray to them. I have no idea how wildlife survives out here with the mosquito population the way it is.

I wonder if the dog but sprays I use would work more safely on horses that need spray applied frequently... Several are just herb based. Cinnamon and lemon grass oil extract mostly. They work well but are not water proof so come off while sweating (dogs don't sweat) and might be expensive for horses. A bottle lasts me all summer on us and the dogs so that's not so bad but it would probably only last a week or 2 being applied daily or more to a horse.
Have no problem using it under a saddle area. Of course, I don't saddle my horses wet either. And I don't use any kind of show sheen mix fly spray. We used that on broodmares to help the fly repellents stick better. I wouldn't want to slide around on show sheen under saddle.

Have used an oil based product called Catus something. In fact, the owner still expects me to use it on all their stock at her ranch where I work horses. It helps, but I don't see any difference in that and the repel as far as controling the fly problem.

Yup, still can get Wipe down here in South Texas.
I have found that Tri-Tech 14 works great. Unfortunately, it's expensive. It's water based as well.

For home-made, this is what I use and it works alright.

1/3 white vinegar
1/3 pine sol
1/3 water

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