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fly repellant

During August of the first summer that my horse Gretel was here in Spain, she devolped a skin complaint. The symptoms were patches of broken skin on her tummy, around her navel, between her front legs near her elbows, on her face where the bridle goes and around the tail area. I first thought this was ringworm, so I treated it with a chemical ringworm preparation. When the cooler weather returned and her coat re-grew, she seemed cured.
The next summer the same complaint resumed but earlier in the year this time. It was very bad by July, so bad that the poor thing would lie down on the ground, bite her tummy and scratch her tail until she bled. I treated it this time with baby cream and sudocream. But this only seemed to relieve some of the itching.
Meanwhile I searched the internet for possible causes. I read that it could be a type of fly that bits the skin and the animal is allergic to the saliva of the fly which then causes the irritation. It is similar to sweet itch:

http://www.sweet-itch.co.uk/symptoms.html
http://www.sweet-itch.co.uk/cause.html

This summer a good friend told me about a natural preparation she uses on her mules.
Here is the recipe:

200ml of baby oil [aceite corporal]
200ml cider vinegar [vinagre de manzane]
7 drops of lavender oil [lavandula ] 100% pure.
7 drops of citronella [ citronella]100% pure

Mix all ingredients together put it in a hand sprayer which you can buy from the garden centre. Shake well. Apply morning and evening. Easy.

So far it is working and Gretel has had no problems this year. The down side is that it attracts dirt; I would normally wash the horses down after every riding session but it does seem better to leave the horse with some of its natural oils as well as the prepared oil. This is, all in all, a better method than the horse being in all that pain. It is good practice to keep the horse's clothing very clean to prevent dirt chaffing in the saddle and girth area. If your horse is not mad about being sprayed, try the following approach:

Tie the horse up where he/she can't break the rope or head collar.
Keep on spraying; it does not hurt & he/she will soon realize that.
Always be quiet about the horse. DO NOT shout; remember the horse has very good hearing.
Reward as soon as the horse stands still. Timing is everything here.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any more questions on this subject, or share your own experiences via our blog:

http://www.salares.net/blog/index.php?entry=entry100724-045219

 

Good luck.

Helen