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double fly rug angst

10 replies

cloudlessskies · 15/07/2015 21:47

Hi all. A horse I help to look after has to wear two fly rugs as she is very allergic to fly bites. Once bitten they turn into big lumps and can weep and then scab over. I feel so sorry for her as she is constantly rugged up and in this heat I worry for her. She has one of those elastic tight fitting ones then another looser one on top at the moment. And then come the cooler weather it's on with the warmer rugs.

Her mane and top of tail have been rubbed quite badly from the rugs and her skin is quite flakey. Her owner has tried feeding her garlic powder but it didn't seem to help.

Does anyone have any words of wisdom? Thank you

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GillynMilly · 15/07/2015 23:40

See the sweet itch thread! I'm finding and hearing that rugging really is the best option coupled with finding what topical treatments work best for your horse as they all seem to re act slightly differently. I'm giving anti histamine tablets daily and marmite currently applying itch stop. My query would be why she is wearing two rugs? Surely the elastic one is enough? R.e garlic,I keep coming across,don't feed it,the immune system is un balanced as they are over reacting to the midge with the allergic reaction. There are plenty of feed supplements aimed at helping to stop the itch but I can't comment on any. Applying anything slightly oily,basically anything that prevents the fly actually being able to bite,E45,sudocreme,Avon skin so soft etc etc. I always hated the idea of these horses being rugged all the time,however having taken on a Shetland with sweet itch and seeing what a state they can get in,even though I still don't like it,rugs do help and you just want to keep them as comfortable as poss at the end of the day.

cloudlessskies · 16/07/2015 20:38

Thanks so much for your response Gillyn. It would appear rugs are the best way then. The bottom rug is a tight fitting sweet itch one but that alone doesn't protect her enough. I presume the flies have got strong/long biting parts :( She isn't on any feed atm, only grass as she is turned out all the time. We have an oil based repellent that we're putting on her face that seems to protect fairly well.

When you say marmite, do you apply this to bites or does this act as a repellent?

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GillynMilly · 18/07/2015 11:29

Feed marmite,just a good teaspoonful on a bit of bread,most love it! The b12 work from within to help against the bite. What I'm finding is nothing works to repell the flies completely away,need like a force field around them! Think even the flies buzzing round them makes them want to itch?! So,the flies will still land and try and bite,so,oily or thick crimes will stop them actually being able to bite and if they are fed something that the flies don't like they will be repelled as soon as they do bite and go away! I'm lucky that mine are close by,if it's raining I will nip out and take the rug off for a bit but get it back on again quick as the midge will come again immediately it stops! I'll also take it off after the midge have gone in the evening and give her a bit of rug free time then,but it goes back on again ready for the midge in the morning! Sadly once it's started all you can do is as best you can to keep them comfy,best is to try and catch it at the start of the year and prevent it,it's such a pain and I never thought I would look forward to a bit of rain,but I do now as think how she must be more comfortable in the rain!

cloudlessskies · 18/07/2015 17:38

Great, I'll try the marmite then. That's good that you are close enough to remove the rugs in the rain, that's not possible with this lovely girl but she is so good natured having them put off and on that maybe she knows it's for her own good!

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Pixel · 18/07/2015 19:02

Does she get any rug-free time in the stable to let her skin have a chance of some air? I've heard of people putting fans in the stable (safely wall-mounted of course and you can put up a fly screen as well) because midges don't like a breeze. Even a slight breeze will stop them being able to land apparently. I think that's why we never have much of a problem here, we are on a hilltop and it's a very rare day when the air isn't moving at all!
I think is she were mine I'd be inclined to let her get a bit rougher in the autumn/early winter after the midges have gone, rather than putting her straight into heavier winter rugs. That way she'd at least get a chance to grow her hair back and hopefully clear up the dry skin problem before it all starts again next year. That's just my gut feeling about letting them have a chance to be a horse for a while though, as I say I'm lucky to have no experience of dealing with sweet itch, it does sound horrendous.

cloudlessskies · 20/07/2015 13:22

Thanks Pixel. No rug free time at all at the moment. She's not very good at standing in her stable but I will mention it to her owner.

Even when she is ridden she wears a fly rug most of the time. She get's very wound up by the flies and she can be temperamental anyway so her owner is doing her best to keep her as comfortable and as calm as she can. But I may suggest she stands in for an hour if I'm riding then I can put her back out. Good suggestion.

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Pixel · 20/07/2015 19:58

If the flies are really bothering her I can recommend the Red Top Fly Trap (think we got ours cheaper on Amazon or maybe it was EBay). You hang it up a short distance away and it really does lure the flies away. We bought one a couple of years ago when we had a boiling hot spell and our chicken run was attracting loads of them despite me keeping it clean and putting down ground sanitiser powder (also for some reason our golden rod was attracting lots of flies which buzzed up every time I walked by, I've dug it up now!).I couldn't believe how quickly the trap got rid of the flies and we had no problems at all after that. If you have a school you could try putting one up near there so she can hopefully work without being bothered.
Must warn you though, it's pretty gross when the fly corpses start to accumulate. I had to put a carrier bag over ours so I couldn't see them!

GillynMilly · 21/07/2015 00:00

I tried one of those fly traps but found horses and dogs were very attracted to it?! It came with a powder you put in the water,smelt like a kind of composts smell? Couldn't hang it anywhere in the end that was safe and near enough to be any use so gave up! They are good though. I think once they have been bitten and the itch starts,the flies do drive them mad just being around them,guess they anticipate the biting?! Any rug free time is a bonus just watch she doesn't take advantage of being able to scratch in the stable,with no rug on she'll be able to do more damage. I totally agree with horses being horses and have never used fly rugs before and only use fly hoods when the big black ones who live in the horses eyes appear,I smear sudocreme in their ears to stop the midge biting! The whole sweat itch thing is a different story though and it seems like a lot of things,midge are becoming very good at surviving and our treatments just aren't enough,same as worms and workers needing to be re thought every 10 years as the worms become immune! Would be worth getting her on some anti histamine,see if helps. I've used supermarket own.

fjalladis · 21/07/2015 13:22

Get a decent sweet itch rug not a fly rug. Fly rugs stop flies not midgies and other nasty tiny bitey horrid things. Look up Solva sweet itch solutions online run by a friend of mine who imports these rugs only ones I would ever use now! That combined with a decent fly spray such as coopers or switch will keep the biters at bay. For bites I use camrosa jell stuff which is brilliant (look it up online )

cloudlessskies · 27/07/2015 09:56

Thanks for the advice all. A fly trap in the stable to allow for a few hours without rugs on would be good. She does wear a proper sweet itch rug (the tight fitting ones with a neck) and then a fly rug over the top. When we try her with just the sweet itch rug something still gets through to her and leaves big lumps, hence why she wears two. Someone else has also mentioned an antihistamine so I will have a look at what people have mentioned.

Thanks again.

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