Insect Repellants

It’s that time of year when flying and biting insects can make a horse’s life miserable. Let us revisit this important topic. 

Another summer’s day and the horses are gently flicking their tails to repel ticks and flies from their backs - they’ve used this method from the beginning of time and it’s no more effective now than it was back then!

Horses are as sensitive to biting flies, ticks and other insects as humans and they never experience relief from these insects without their owner’s help. Commercial insect repellents can be effective, but many are made of chemicals that may harm the horse’s skin and cause other health problems.

Making all natural insect repellent at home not only helps horses be rid of pesky flies but allows

the owner to know exactly what’s in it so, if a horse has an adverse reaction, it’s relatively simple to identify the offending ingredient and avoid a repeat offense.

A certain amount of care is required when using essential oils as some natural insect repellents sold in stores or online are highly toxic even though the label may read natural essential oils. Many of these oils are perfume grade oils rather than the therapeutic grade essential oils. The perfume grade is highly toxic and can leave a horse’s skin damaged.

Essential oils that are commonly used as insect repellent are:

Idaho Tansy - works as a natural mosquito and beetle repellent and as an anti- inflammatory to relieve

joint swelling.

Peppermint - not only works well to get rid of insects but in treating stomach pains, too.

Lemon Grass - used as insect repellent and to regenerate connective tissue such as torn ligaments, cartilage and tendons.

Rosemary - works well as a repellent, brings clarity and helps hair to grow.

Eucalyptus - not only an effective insect repellent but also used as a mouth wash and to aid respiratory infections.

Most insect repellent for horses use a formula that mixes essential oils with one or two other substances.

Always dilute the essential oils before spraying them onto the horse’s skin.

Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray all over the horse several times.

Avoid spraying the horse in the eyes and mouth.

If the horse moving away from the spray, the solution might be irritatinghisskin.

A simple recipe is to place 10 drops of the the chosen essentials oil into a one litre bottle, add water and spray.

The different smells affect horses the same way they affect humans. Be sure not to use a synthetic repellent as they tend to dull the coat.

Essential oils can provide a safe and effective way to protect both humans and horses in the long summer months from those annoying biting insects. Just remember to choose therapeutic grade oils and be alert for adverse reactions. 

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