How can I protect my horse from flies?

Flies can irritate your horse, especially over the summer months. Here, registered nutritionist, Kate Hore explains what you can do. 

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For some horses, the appearance of flies and insects goes far beyond just being annoying. 

A hypersensitive reaction, often to the bite of the Cullicoides midge, can cause sweet itch, where affected animals rub themselves raw. 

Even with the best fly rugs, a fly repellent specifically designed for use on horses is necessary. 

Under EU law, insect repellents for horses are registered by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). 

Look for the HSE numbers on products to ensure it's suitable.

Commonly used repellents to look for are DEET and PMD. The latter is derived from eucalyptus and is the only naturally derived repellent licensed for use in Europe. 

I'd advise against mixing your own sprays, as the essential oils used are potentially harmful in the wrong concentrations. 

Feeding a targeted supplement to repel flies from the inside out can help maintain a healthy coat. 

Look for a product based on natural antioxidants that can help flush out the toxins associated with a hypersensitive reaction. 

The addition of MSM provides sulphur, which not only supports healthy skin and hair tissue, but is also reported to be foul tasting to flies through the horse's skin.