Kentucky Equestrian Articles

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Bugs, Bugs, BUGS!

Submitted by: Cate Jones
Email Address: Fasporthorses(at)
Date Added: 8/25/2014

In case you haven't noticed, it's hot out. As my friends in New England are starting to dig out their cozy fall sweaters, I'm still debating how unprofessional it would be to feed in my bathing suit** since all my clothes are adheared to my body by sweat. Awesome picture, huh?

The really fun things that comes with this lovely heat are the bugs. Big bugs, little bugs, biting bugs, ugly bugs. My boss even snapped a picture of a horsefly eating a bumble bee today. I wish I were kidding.

I wanted to share our tactics for keeping the bug population manageable. The only critters I haven't managed to get under control are the spiders. At least I get my daily cardio in when I go into ninja mode walking through their webs in the morning.

1) Feed through supplements. These are a bit controversial and for some people they work. We are "some people". We've used three different types so far this summer, and my favorite thus far is a product called BugZee. It's in pellet form, and while the smell is a bit repulsive to me, the horses gobble it up (even the really picky ones). The pellet form cuts down on waste considerably. My least favorite is a product called 3 in 1 BugLyte. It's disgusting, sticks to the pitchers, and the horses don't really care for it either. The third that we've tried is called BugCheck and while the smell isn't as bad, the powder is very fine and gets a bit wasted.

2) Topical fly treatment. We use SpotOn every two weeks on the crew here, and I can always tell who wasn't able to be caught on SpotOn Sunday (it's like Super Bowl Sunday, but more exciting because horses). The bugs are all over them. I love the SpotOn's, because they save me from running around fly spraying ninty horses daily. 80% of the horses on our farm are retired or broodmares and fly spray is for working horses thankyouverymuch. I also love them because we do have one picky gelding (you know who you are) who won't eat the feed through. Well worth every penny!

3) Clean water. Seems like a given, right? Not too many people that I've talked to have realized that keeping their waterers clean will help keep the pesky bug population down. We are religious about waterers. They get cleaned every other day, including the ones in empty stalls. Horses that have outside tubs get about 1/4 of a gallon of apple cider vinegar. Not only does that keep the bug population down, but it helps with the algea issue too! I love anything that kills two birds with one stone.

4)Poop. I know. The manure situation can have a lot to do with the bug situation. Poop makes a perfect nest for bugs, so keeping the situation under control is pretty helpful. We clean our stalls into a spreader, and that gets spread in the biggest pasture we have, as far away from the barn as I can get it. It's pretty helpful in the summer, even though it's not fun to sit on the tractor in 8 million degree weather.

That's what we've been doing to help keep the bugs at bay this summer. Here's to fall...I need a few weeks before I stop complaining about the heat and start complaining about the cold, because I'm human and that's how we roll!

As a side note, are any of my fellow Kentucky Equestrians planning on attending the Hooves for Hope event at the Kentucky Horse Park? If you are, come say hi! I'd love to meet everybody!

** I've been told it's very unprofessional.