How to keep gnats out of my horse's ears?
March 21, 2010 7:19 PM   Subscribe

Defeating evil bloodsucking insects: Is there a style of ear net that will stay on my horse overnight or should I leave his fly mask on all night? In the past I have used Swat, but do not want to do that this year. Normal fly spray is ineffective.

We're on a flood plain and the insects (gnats?) are especially fierce around dawn and dusk, so I need something that can stay on/work all night. I have no problem keeping his halter on all night (it's a normal nylon breakaway) if that will be sufficient to keep an ear net on. But he'll probably rub some, so I'm not sure it's enough. His fly mask has an ear net, and we've added elastic so he can't get it off, but I was always told not to leave a fly mask on overnight. Anyway, suggestions?

(Oh, and I don't want to use Swat this time around because the gunk builds up too quickly and just adds to the problem of yucky ears.)
posted by anaelith to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have left fly masks with ear screening (w/ velcro) on a horse who had stitches in his ear overnight both in a stall and on night turnout. As long as they can breakaway, no problem. Swat does tend to build up too much in the long term.
posted by mmf at 7:25 PM on March 21, 2010

My parents use something like this with good results. They've had horses with serious issues with flies around the eyes and so forth, and as far as I know, they've left the fly masks on overnight with no ill effects.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:32 PM on March 21, 2010

I third using a fly mask with ears. I leave them on my horses overnight all the time in the summer, with no problems. An ear net is not likely to stay on, and I really don't like leaving halters on horses overnight. The fly masks pull off very easily if there's a problem, and are quite safe.
posted by OolooKitty at 7:54 PM on March 21, 2010

Yeah, fly mask is your best bet. There's a horse at my barn who's extremely sensitive to light and wears one all night because he gets turned out from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m., and just the sunlight in the evening and morning hours could damage his vision. Really, the only problem with leaving a fly mask on comes when you have people who leave them on for a week at a time without looking underneath 'em. If you're taking it off daily to check it isn't rubbing his eyes, etc., he'll be totally fine.
posted by po at 5:29 AM on March 22, 2010

nthing purchasing a few fly masks with ears in the correct size. If your horse is turned out with other horses, or if he decides to try and remove the mask himself, you're going to want one or two spare masks around to replace it. Our horses wear masks most of the summer because of the flies, and they play and tear up their masks pretty well. I think these fly masks from Tractor Supply are the sturdiest and cheapest.

It's totally fine to leave a fly mask on overnight if you think it's necessary, but I would never leave a halter on a horse that's turned out to pasture. Just make sure to check that the fly mask is fitting properly and isn't causing any irritation or rubbing the hair off in one spot (to avoid this you can alternate between brands of fly masks).

To avoid the icky ears problem, I suggest periodically wiping the inside of your horse's ears with some witch hazel. It's safe to use, cleans out the "gunk," and helps relieve some of the itchiness of bug bites. When the gnats start attacking my horse (they go for the ears, under the chin, chest, belly and sheath) I wipe the areas with witch hazel, apply a layer of petroleum jelly (the gnats can't chew their way through it) and then a thin layer of Swat to deter them. I repeat this whenever I'm out and it keeps my horse pretty happy in the summer.
posted by gumtree at 10:13 AM on March 22, 2010

Fly mask all night it is then, thanks everyone!
posted by anaelith at 7:35 AM on March 31, 2010

« Older Poker add-ons?   |   We need help planning our vacation! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.