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After a long, cold winter we cannot wait for summer to bring sun, green grass and warm evenings. But along with the heat comes mosquitos, midges, horse flies and other insects that bother horses. With right tools and knowledge, we can make summer pasture easier on our four-legged friends. Some horses may have allergic reactions to stings, which in the worst case could lead to heart failure. A horse that is highly bothered by insects may also become agitated and start to kick and scratch itself, or move around a lot to get away from them, which prevents it from grazing. The horse may be irritated by more than the blood-sucking insects; regular flies may also bother them, and contribute to eye and sore infections.The most irritating insectsThere is a large number of blood-sucking insects in Sweden, such as mosquitos, midges and horse flies. Many of them reproduce in water and wetlands, such as lakes, streams and bogs. For this reason, they are also the most active near water or humid forest areas. They are primarily attracted by the odours of animals and humans, but also by heat and carbon dioxide. Midges and mosquitos are mostly active in shady areas, around dusk and in the evening, while horse flies may attack in the middle of the day in scorching sun.
There are a few tricks that we can resort to in order to protect our horses from the worst insect attacks. The scope of the infestations will depend on the time of year, climate and area. The sensitivity to insects also varies between individual horses. So the trick is to find a method that suits you and your horse.
If possible, avoid keeping it in excessively humid areas, close to water or where there is a lot of undergrowth. Make sure that your horse has shelter or, if you can, put it in stables during the times of the day when the insects are most active.
The horse has its natural protection in the form of its mane, forelock and tail. But if this is not enough, you can add a fly fringe or fly mask to protect the horse's head from insects, or a fly sheet that protects large parts of the body against most stings and bites.
There are also many different types of insect repellents that may help you and your horse to keep the insects at bay. The first time you use a new chemical product, you should check how your horse will react to it by first applying it to a small area, for example on the chest, before using it more extensively. Remember to read the instructions carefully before applying any insect repellent to your horse.
If your horse has been severely attacked by insects, you should provide treatment as soon as possible. Wash any wounds to prevent infection, and take your horse's temperature regularly using a thermometer intended for horses and livestock. Keep a watchful eye on the affected area to catch any signs of infection or inflammation; look out for swelling and bad odour. Always consult your veterinarian if you are unsure.
Your nearest Höök retailer or our online store can offer you the best products to help you and your horse combat the most irritating insects. We have insect protection, antiseptic solutions, thermometers for horses and other products that you and your horse may need this spring and summer.