Make Your Own Fly Spray

I’ve considered making my own fly spray for a couple of years now, but never gotten around to it. However, my Mum tried and tested a recipe last year and was pleased with how effective it is. So with extra time on my hands this spring, I decided to give it a go.

Once I’d sourced the ingredients (mostly online) and bought two 1L spray bottles, it was fairly straightforward.


  • 225ml dettol
  • 250ml Avon skin so Soft (Dry oil spray)
  • 250 ml cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 squirt of washing up liquid
  • 5ml citronella essential oil
  • 5ml lavender essential oil
  • 5 ml tea tree essential oil
  • 5ml neem oil.
  • Approximately 1250ml cold tea made from 6 tea bags.

It’s very simple, I mixed all the ingredients except for cold tea in a bowl and stirred them well, then I put half into each of my 1l spray bottles (one for each horse) and filled each up to the 1l mark with cold tea.

It smells quite similar to the shop bought ones, which is a relief, although darker in colour. You need to shake the bottle well before use, but otherwise it has the same application directions. I have heard that it is effective for sweet itch sufferers, so am hoping that it really helps Otis.

I’ve just done the calculations, and aside from the £6.99 one off cost for the bottles, the ingredients to make 2l of fly spray cost £10.95. we did however have white vinegar, washing up liquid, and tea bags in stock. So you can probably round that figure to £12 to safely include all ingredients.

A quick look online shows that you can pay at least £12 for a 500ml bottle of branded fly spray. For ease of comparison, including the cost of the two bottles, 500ml of fly spray costs £4.95 to make. It’s got to be worth trying it.

I’ll let you know how we get on!

Rug Wear

WordPress won’t let me reblog a post more than once … so I’m going to direct you to one of my earliest posts, which I think is important to bear in mind.

Whilst rug designs have come on in leaps and bound, so there is far less of a problem of badly fitting rugs causing rubs, horses are wearing rugs much, much more.

They used to wear rugs in the winter, then go without from spring through to autumn. Nowadays, horses wear rugs of varying weights autumn through to spring, then wear fly rugs or rain sheets throughout the summer.

Which of course is absolutely fine, and often a necessity for convenience, or to protect horses who are particularly irritated by flies. But wearing rugs constantly, however well fitting, can cause patches of hair or mane to disappear and the skin to become sore.

I recently noticed that one of the horses that I ride had the slightest pink patch on his withers, so we immediately removed his lightweight rug, and have left him naked for a week, despite rain forecast and despite flies coming out of the woodwork. I was really pleased today to see that his wither looks completely normal again, and hopefully a few more days with no pressure on that area and he’ll be fine.

And now, you can go and peruse my original post about fistulous withers !

The Best Fly Mask

Earlier this week one of Phoenix’s field friend’s owner asked me about her fly mask as she was very impressed with its stay-on-ability.

I bought both Otis and Phoenix the same mask in the spring, and I have to admit I have been pleased with my purchases.

It’s made by Shires, so is reasonably priced and good quality. The masks have light net ears, which both horses need. Otis has previously has a horrible ear abscess, and Phoenix was irritated by the little black flies in the spring so I like them both to have their ears protected. The masks also have nose nets. Not so important for Otis, but Phoenix has definitely benefited from having a UV net protecting her white muzzle from the strong summer sun. Shires also offer variations of the fly mask without ear covers or nose nets.


The masks have shaped netting over the forehead and eyes, so it stays away from their eyes, which I think helps keep their eyes healthy and stops them getting gunky and sore. It definitely looks more comfortable than the flimsy fly masks. The only potential issue with this design is that if a fly or ten get under the mask they can cause havoc and really distress the horse. Which is why the edge needs to fit snugly around the poll, throatlash and jaw.

The best thing about the fly masks, however, is how well they stay on. At the risk of tempting fate, Otis has only lost his when he ripped the side. It’s elasticated around the poll and has two strong Velcro straps which for once are the correct length so that the mask sits snugly whilst the straps don’t overshoot the Velcro pad thus providing field mates with a fun handle to pull.

The downside to these masks, as with any, is that you have to keep a close eye that they don’t rub. With all masks I find the tips of Otis’s ears get sore unless I turn the ears inside out, remove the loose hair and scurf that’s built up in the tips, and also cut off any excess material. This one’s no different. I think it’s because his ears are so long! Because they’re snug fitting and have elastic around the poll you have to keep an eye out for rubs developing here too. Phoenix is currently having a break from her mask as she’s got a bit of a rub on her poll which I’d like to settle down before it causes any problems. Plus having a few overcast days is providing some relief from the endless smothering of sun cream I’ve been doing to her. But daily checking, readjusting the masks, and giving them time without them makes these negative points manageable, and the pros of the mask fitting and staying on without slipping far outweighs the cons.

To testify how popular these masks seem to be this year, when I looked at ordering a mask for Phoenix’s field friend, I was surprised to find that there’s only a handful available online and definitely none available if you need a cob size!

Fly Masks

I bought Otis a new fly mask this season. Well, two actually. I can`t believe the number available, in numerous sizes; some with fluffy padding, some providing UV protection, some with ears covers, and some with nose nets. Then of course comes the range of colours and the material.

The first fly mask Otis had this year has ear covers, mainly because a couple of years ago he got bitten inside his ear and it abscessed – not at all pleasant. So I like to keep the flies away from his sensitive lugholes. However, the downside to these ear covers is that if your horse has ears that fill the covers the stitching and excess material on the inside can rub the tips of the ears. Debris also collects there, so as well as washing the mask I also need to turn the ears inside out. The little rubs on the tips of his ears have caused me to purchase another fly mask without ears, with the idea that a couple of weeks break from the ear covers will allow his ears to heal and then I can revert to the original fly mask.

The original fly mask is well shaped, with a fairly rigid mesh because I don`t like the idea of the mask lying too close to the eyes, which is why I opted for one with more contours and not such a soft, floppy material. I’m sure it damages the sensitive eye whiskers, and can`t be that comfortable for the horse. At the other end of the scale the stiff mesh fly masks don’t contour to the horse`s facial shape and are more likely to rub because the material is not as forgiving. It`s personal preference, but fly masks are now made of far more superior materials than the ones the first graced the market a couple of decades ago.

I never looked for a nose net for fly masks for Otis because although he has a small patch of white on his lip, he doesn`t suffer from sun burn, but this mask I bought earlier this season happened to have a nose net. It doesn’t cause a problem for Otis, but some horses don`t like the feel of a net around their muzzle. The nets also collect dust, from grazing and from their nose so need cleaning frequently.

Some masks, and they tend to be at the higher end of the market, have UV protection, which is a must if your horse suffers from uveitis, blue eyes, or has sensitive, pink skin because this could still get sunburnt with a normal mask. Do these masks come with UV nose nets because I assume that horses requiring UV protection to their face are likely to need similar protection on their muzzle.

Another accessory on fly masks is padding; if your horse has sensitive skin then it`s another thing to consider. Some have discreet fleece over the stitching and edges of the mask, whilst others have more elaborate padding. Again, this is down to personal preference. If your horse needs the padding to prevent rubbing then it is definitely worth considering, however the padding makes the mask warmer so you may get into trouble on hot days. I find the discreet fleece edging an attractive option.

Finally, you want to consider the fastening for the mask. One strap or two straps? Double Velcro? If you have a horse who plays with his field mates then a secure fastening is the most important aspect, however it also needs to be quick and easy to put on, either in the gateway or around the headcollar on the yard. I also prefer the masks to fit quite snugly around the jaw because I worry that the ones that are a little loose in their fit can allow flies up inside the mask, which would be torturous for a more horse and potentially cause a bad accident.

I`ll start off with a picture of Otis in his bug-like fly mask, but lets see your horses sporting their summer head wear too, with a bit of blurb about the type of mask you chose.