Naughty boy!


This is Drifter trying on his new fly sheet. He’s allergic to many commercial fly sprays (I haven’t yet found one he can use), we have to use home-made stuff which isn’t as effective, and so I decided a better fly sheet was needed, especially as flies really like black horses and I think it’s going to be a really fly-y year for us. This is an Amigo bug-buster which is impregnated with a fly repellent he isn’t allergic to (I know this because he’s been happily using the fly mask with it for several years). It has generous coverage (as you can see!) and nice belly coverage. The fit is not perfect – it’s a little narrow in the chest for him, a little long in the back and the neck is massive. Because the fit wasn’t great on him I called a staff member over to check she thought it was OK. She agreed that getting another size wouldn’t really work for him, and expressed concern that he might get caught in the long leg covers and rip them. While I accept there is some risk there, I’m not going to worry too much because he’s not particularly accident prone and he’s not a horse that panics overly if he gets caught in things. He either waits for a human to rescue him or puts on his thinking cap and calmly works out how to free himself.

Anyway, the staff member continued, he’ll probably be fine – his stuff doesn’t usually get ripped because it’s always him ripping other horses’ gear. This was news to me, but apparently for a few days they trialed him and his regular turn-out companion going out with a new pony. D is subordinate to his regular companion but apparently dominant over the pony, and he is expressing this mostly by removing things from the pony. Apparently he took the pony’s fly mask off him each day. This pony is notoriously difficult to catch, and so is turned out in a head-collar. One day Drifter took his fly mask off him and then his head collar too. The horses are only going out for a few hours in the morning at the moment to save the fields, but that day the pony was out until evening because without the head-collar no one could catch him, so despite everyone’s best efforts he stayed out until he wanted to come in for evening feed time! When I heard this story I was really suprised by my usually polite horse, although I have noticed he is a bit full of himself at the moment. I felt a bit embarrassed but there’s really nothing I can do. I’m pleased in a way that finally D’s not at the bottom of the pecking order but I wish he was just expressing it with body language!

I was not surprised, a few days later, to see that Drifter and his companion are out together, with the pony in a small adjoining separately fenced area, so they can all see each other, but no head-collar removal can occur!

14 thoughts on “Naughty boy!

  1. Elinor says:

    Have you tried a feed through? I have had some success with a product from AniMed called bug off

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      I hadn’t thought of it. I’ll look into it, thanks.

      • Elinor says:

        Well, it’s not an end all, but for some horses, it can really make a difference. Some people swear by mixing in apple cider vinegar in the horses drinking water troth. I’ve never seen it make a difference at all, but the feed supplements specifically formulated to keep flies away can really help.
        It just depends on the horse.
        The one I have used definitely has a very distinctive garlic smell…
        Not really what I like to feed a horse, but if they’re getting huge sores on their belly from relentless biting flies, well, then it’s worth it 🙂

        Hope all goes well!

  2. Bigger On The Inside says:

    Ha! I love the look on his face in the photo. It says “I’m busted, but I’m not sorry!”

    Re fly sprays, one of the horses in the school where I ride has the same problem. They feed her wild garlic chips, which seem to keep the flies away a bit, and also use a herbal spray of some kind. If I remember, I’ll ask the name of it for you.

    I know somebody else who swears by feeding her horses marmite. If you decide to try and get Drifter to eat marmite, I definitely want to see a photo!

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      “Busted but not sorry” is something he has expressed more and more lately! I am now interested in the idea of trying him on marmite. I wonder if it will be anything like his face when I tried offering him bananas. He did not want banana anywhere near him let alone eating any!

  3. Liz Dexter says:

    Ooh naughty boy! But that’s actually pretty funny and cool, too …

  4. Liz Dexter says:

    By the way, talking of headcollars, I went riding in Iceland last week – the bridles there consist of the bit, attached to reins and ONE loop of leather which goes round behind their ears. No noseband. No browband. No cheek strap. And if you have a horse with a small head and a wilful temperament, however fuzzy its mane, the bit round the ears WILL slip down their neck and make you feel very worried / have to bend forward and try to hoick it up. Argh!

    • Sparrowgrass says:

      I do like that minimalism, compared to the overuse of tight nose-bands and flashes and the lack of care on whether the brow band is too small that seems so common, sadly. That said, when I rode D’s without a noseband because it was being resized he used the extra freedom to take the mickey out of me, so I’m not going that minimalist myself 🙂

      • Liz Dexter says:

        It’s a bit unnerving on an unfamiliar horse; I couldn’t work out whether it meant we were pulling at their poor mouths more or less. Well, obviously I wasn’t pulling at her mouth, but there were some complete novices there who were doing all kinds of things …

      • Sparrowgrass says:

        I suspect it wouldn’t affect it much, if at all. None of the “missing” parts would connect to the bit or reins so I can’t see that they’d do much in this context. And the horse would probably be wierded out by a more fiddly bridle if this is what they’re used to. I wouldn’t worry about it 🙂

  5. neilirving says:

    For fly spray we use diluted TCP, seems to work well and makes them smell nice to lol

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