Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Teach Difficult Horse to Accept Fly Spray or Spray Bottle

Fly sprays play an important role in preventing the transmission of disease in horses, and lessens or prevents the pain inflicted by biting flies. Used in combination with other fly prevention mechanisms (fans, fly sheets, fly predators, good manure management) fly sprays help lessen the occurrence of skin conditions that develop from fly infestations.

Periodically, I am told by horse owners that their horse will not tolerate being sprayed with fly spray or with anything else contained in a spray bottle. Horses are flight animals and tend to flee circumstances that scares them. In this case, if you stop spraying them when they move away or dance around, your reaction merely reinforces this undesirable behavior.

Like anything else, however, you can teach your horse to accept this easily. But first you must analyze the circumstances. Does your horse drop away from pressure on his face or poll? Do you know why the horse became resistant? Does the initial sound and feel appear to startled the horse?

Procedure

Fill a clean empty spray bottle with water. Adjust the spray nozzle to disperse a spray of small droplets or mist, not a direct jet. Stand on your horse's left side, with the spray bottle in your right hand. Hold the cheek piece of your horse's halter in your left hand or about 6 feet of lead rope. Despite holding the halter, place no pressure on your horse.

Now begin spraying the bottle directly away from your horse towards the ground. Keep spraying until the horse stops moving. If the horse moves, maintain pressure on the halter or lead with the left hand and keep spraying. The split second the horse stops moving, stop spraying. Put down the bottle and rub the horse on the neck and give them 10 seconds to rest.

Repeat this process slowly directing the angle of the spray towards them. Again, if the horse moves or resists, keep spraying and put pressure on the halter until you get a yield. The split second the horse stops moving, stop spraying. Put down the bottle and rub the horse on the neck and give them another 10 seconds to rest.

Repeat this process slowly directing the angle of the spray to the left shoulder (a comparatively less sensitive area), and gradually expand outward until you can spray your horse’s whole body, using this same method.

Tips for safety & Success

Take some time to work with your horse on this issue before fly season arrives.

Helpful terms & topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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