Summer Prep for your Horse

Summer Prep for your Horse

Tuesdays with Tony

You all know how much I love laying around outside basking in the sun, but the last few weeks have been a muggy mess! This past weekend gave us some relief, but that was just a tease. Winter’s gone and summer has arrived, along with all those fun Florida summer things that horses and horse owners get to deal with. Fortunately for you, I’m an expert on summer and the problems it can cause for your horse, and I’m here to help you prepare for a happy, safe summer ahead.

Heat and Humidity

You don’t have to live in Florida to be affected by the heat and humidity of summer. Horses throughout the entire world are affected every year by anhidrosis, which is the inability to sweat. The cause of anhydrosis is unknown, but humidity does seem to play a role. If you know that your horse is a non-sweater, I highly recommend getting a jump start on helping them deal with it before the heat of summer.

There is excellent data on acupuncture treatment for non-sweaters. I’ve seen it myself; a horse comes with difficulty sweating, they have a few acupuncture treatments, and while they may not be in a full-blown dripping sweat, they are indeed sweating. I’ve also noticed that non-sweaters who are treated with acupuncture really seem to handle the heat much better. It is complete voodoo magic in my opinion, but it’s voodoo magic that works.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

You may not know if your horse is a non-sweater yet, and that’s okay! At the first sign that your horse is shutting down and not sweating, call your veterinarian. They can talk to you about treatments, products, and lifestyle changes that may make your horse’s life as a non-sweater easier.

Horses that don’t sweat aren’t the only ones that struggle with the heat, and it can be exhausting. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the appropriate times to work your horse. Early in the morning and late in the evening tend to be the coolest. It can also be beneficial to hose your horse down prior to exercising. An extended warm up and cool down will ensure your horse recovers well after exercise, thus preventing problems associated with heat stress.

An overheated horse is prone to colic from dehydration. They can also collapse from overheating. Believe it or not, horses can overheat even if they are not doing any type of exercise. That means a horse could be standing out in his favorite pasture and get overheated. Ensuring there is fresh cool water available, ample shade, and if possible, fans, can be extremely useful in preventing a horse from overheating. I’ve even heard stories about horse owners setting up sprinkler systems for their horses to stand in during the day, and those silly horses do, and LOVE it. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose.


I know how much you all just love the bugs. Flies and mosquitos are just great, aren’t they? How about gnats? And oh, my goodness, it’s literally been raining caterpillars recently. Flies and mosquitos are a year-round thing down here in Florida and are enough to drive any horse and horse owner bananas.

If you’ve ever had a horse that’s had a summer sore, you know what I mean when I say they are a pain in the rear end. Preventing summer sores is key. I highly recommend your horse wear a fly mask, if not 24/7, at least during the day when the flies are most busy. Feed-through fly supplements such as Solitude IGR or Simplifly reduce the number of flies present on a farm. The trouble with these supplements is they have to be fed to every horse on the property and if there are horses nearby on surrounding properties, they should also be on it. It has to be a collective effort from the horse owners in the area.

Fly predators are one type of bug that I really like. These little bugs are so useful in reducing the fly population. Most struggles with fly control stem from damp organic material being left unattended. Damp organic material such as wet shavings, poop bits, and old hay and grain that is swept out of the barn but left at the end of the aisle is the fly’s favorite breeding grounds. Simply raking up debris will help reduce the fly population. For more tips and tricks about fly control, give me a call, I have all kinds of suggestions up my sleeve.

Three hundred sixty-five days a year, mosquitos are present. Unlike flies, there’s not a lot that can be done to reduce the number of mosquitos. However, getting rid of stagnant water is definitely useful. More importantly is making sure your horse is protected against mosquito-borne illnesses such as eastern and western encephalitis and west nile virus. These illnesses are life-threatening. Having your horse properly vaccinated is extremely important for prevention. This means having your veterinarian vaccinate your horse with properly stored vaccines at least twice a year. Did you know that if a box of vaccines is left out on the loading dock at your feed store, they might not be effective? And there’s no way to tell. Vaccines have to be kept at a very specific temperature, which your veterinarian knows, but the guy at the feed store might not. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Now, who do I talk to about these darn caterpillars? I swear I can’t get any rest without one of those things falling on me. Most of the time I wouldn’t care about the caterpillars, but recently the ones I have been encountering have been extra spicy. Have you noticed the ones with all the hairs poking up? Those are the spiciest of all.

Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Caterpillars usually aren’t much of a nuisance to horses, but these hairy ones certainly can be. I’ve seen horses stick their nose in their feed buckets take a bite of feed and then run away and refuse to go back to it. I always like to inspect things, so be sure to check your horse’s feed and water buckets for these pesky critters. And use caution when removing them to avoid getting stung yourself!


The rain is coming. We might need a little bit of rain right now but halfway into summer, I can already hear the complaints about the rain. With rain comes a myriad of feet problems. From abscess to mushy foot to thrush. Wetness can cause your horse to come up lame at just the wrong time. Planning to go to a show? Trust me, your horse is probably going to get an abscess or develop mushy foot and be foot sore. I’ve seen it a million times.

Prevention is key. Have your farrier out on a regular schedule, usually every 4-6 weeks. Apply topical hoof care as directed by your veterinarian and farrier. And do not allow your horse to stand in mud, muck, and water all day long. This will damage your horse’s feet, and while I love seeing you all, I really do, I hate hearing that your horse’s feet hurt.

With rain and wetness comes the dreaded rain rot. No, rain rot isn’t a fungus, it’s a bacteria that infects your horse’s hair follicles and causes that nasty, greasy, gunk on their back and legs. Making sure your horse has ample time to dry after a wet spell, reducing hair length, and frequent bathing with CK shampoo will help reduce the occurrence and severity of rain rot. My docs know all the best products to combat rain-rot. Just call them, they won’t steer you wrong.

It’s not all bad

Summer isn’t all bad! The days are longer, which means you get more time with your horses, and who doesn’t love that? If you want to have a long, enjoyable summer of time in the saddle with your horse, prevention is key. Regular veterinary exams and being prepared before summer hits are essential to both your happiness as well as your horse’s happiness and comfort.

Until next week,


P.S. Want more? Check out my YouTube Channel! I’ve got seminars on rain rot, foot care, flies, and a lot of other topics. I’ve got how-to videos on all kinds of things. I mean, who takes care of you better than this cat? You can show me some love by subscribing to my blog, or my YouTube Channel, or my Facebook page, or to the Podcast that the humans do. I even have an Instagram and a Tik-Tok, if you can believe that. Just click on any of those blue words to go check it out.


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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More Adventures of the Horse Doctor's Husband
The War on Flies

The War on Flies

Tuesdays with Tony

I love Florida Spring. The weather this past week has been absolute perfection for sunbathing in the middle of the driveway at the Clinic. I love seeing how many people I can get to drive around me by laying right in the middle. It’s a good time. Unfortunately this weather has been good for something else: flies. Now I enjoy a few flies around. They are so fun to chase, especially when they get inside, and I can run around, over, and through all the hard work my minions are doing. If I get papers to go flying it’s even better. A few flies is fun. A bunch of flies is awful, and since I live in a barn, flies can be a problem.


Luckily, I found this handy guide to flies: Full Paper. I’m going to give you the wise cat summary version here, but I highly recommend you go read the entire document! It’s full of great information about managing flies. Now is the time (in Florida anyway) to get busy managing your environment for flies. For my adoring fans in areas that are still cold, one day it will stop snowing, and this will be useful information.


Whatcha got there?


You have to start by knowing your flies. Different flies want different things in life. This means you can’t catch stable flies with the same traps you would use for house flies. Heck, you might not even have house flies. Setting out several kinds of traps, and putting them in different areas will help you see what you’ve got.


You can also spend some quality time watching your flies (and your horses) to help determine fly species buzzing around. For example, house flies like to hang out with their bodies parallel to a surface, while stable flies like to set their little fly butts down. Really learning what kind of flies you have, and watching to see which kind annoy your horses most will help you pick the right ways to kill the most flies possible. I love helping my minions observe flies. It is a great time to insist on chin scratches.


Hit ‘em where it hurts


We’re going to learn a lot about flies today. We’ve already learned that house and stable flies hang out in different locations. Now we’re going to learn about fly life cycles. Knowing how flies raise fly families helps you get rid of happy fly breeding grounds. Flies go through four stages: adult, eggs, larvae, and pupae. This gives you four separate life stages to go after! Adults are best targeted with traps (but remember you need the right trap for the kind of fly you have!).

 Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic

Eggs can be difficult to target, but heat is your friend here. For larvae (ie, maggots, and who doesn’t think they’re just gross), getting rid of the environment is key. Larvae can be found in damp, protected areas. At a horse farm, the absolute prime baby fly location is in those horrendous mats of hay found around hay feeders. Other great baby rearing locales are under stall mats, especially under the water buckets, and anywhere horse manure piles up. There is a cool product called sodium bisulfate (sold as Poultry Litter Treatment) you can add to stalls, or edges of manure piles. This stuff changes the pH enough to kill the larvae without changing it so much that it’s bad for the rest of us.


Pupae can get eaten by a cool bug called a Fly Predator! These are tiny wasps that live to eat fly pupae. They can be ordered from companies like Spalding Fly Predators ( The key to fly predators is to put them out about every two weeks in the height of the season, and start them early.


Control what’s left


Ok you’ve identified your flies, the areas they hang out, you’ve got your traps, cleaned up the wet, matted hay, and put out Fly Predators. Now what? First, you will notice you have a lot fewer flies to even worry about. You may find you have few enough that you and your horse are happy, but if not, never fear: there’s fly spray. Ever felt like no fly spray works? Here’s a few fly spray tips:

  1. None of them last for very long. Apply them right before you really, really, need them.
  2. Be sure your ENTIRE horse is covered with fly spray. Best way to do this is to wipe them down. Pro tip: a sunless tanning mousse application mitt works great for this.
  3. EcoVet. It has a funny smell, but actually works. In testing done by Dr. Machtinger (who I stole all the information in this week’s blog from), EcoVet was the only fly spray that worked.

 Remember, this is the short version of flies and horses. For even more on flies, go here: Full Paper.

 Now be a good human and subscribe to my blog. You won’t regret it, and you’ll get a super special email from me once weekly.

If you’d like to hear a podcast that my team did with Dr. Machtinger about flies, click here: Flies Podcast It’s loaded with information, and takes about a half hour to listen to. You’re welcome!

Until next week,


Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at, or follow us on Facebook!

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Tuesdays with Tony – Flies

Tuesdays with Tony – Flies

Ah, not-winter! It covers most of the year in Florida. I love not-winter. I love sleeping in the sun, I love rolling in the grass, and I love not being cold. I don’t love bugs. Not-winter comes with a lot of bugs. Want to learn how to manage some of those bugs? Read on while I confer some wisdom on you.

Whatcha got there?

Any good bug management plan starts with knowing what kind of bugs you have. Around horses, you generally have stable flies and house flies. Easy way to tell them apart: the ones biting your legs are stable flies; the ones landing on your lunch are house flies. I have included pictures if you would like to examine their cold, lifeless bodies after you kill them to determine which ones you have.

Beyond stable and house flies, you have horse flies, horn flies, and the always-fun deer flies. Gnats are another little gem. I have a bad news/good news scenario for them later on. Each of these fun creatures from Hell require their own management system, so knowing what you have, and what you are trying to control, is really important.

Manage your poop

Step 1 in fly management is manure management. House flies and gnats, in particular, love a good organic component to their baby nurseries. By managing your manure well, you make inhospitable baby-making territory.

I have a few thoughts on this matter, but let’s start with the basics. Look for areas where manure and water congregate. Eliminate those areas with drains (I hear the French version works well, whatever that means), and manure buckets so poop leaves the vicinity rather than making a delicious manure/water mud fly aphrodisiac.  Drag fields to break up manure so it can dry out. Cover manure piles with black tarps to make it too hot to handle for baby flies.

Horses make a lot of poop. Making it less appealing to flies will go further than most control measures towards decreasing your fly population.

Want to make your manure into compost you can put on your fields and flowers in 90 days? Check out this link.

Or ask Dr. Lacher about her aerated static pile compost system. She loves to talk about it, and it will save the rest of us from hearing about how amazing it is, again.

Kill them, kill them all

Back to the beginning: know what you have to know how to kill them.  

Fly predators and traps are great options to really decimate your house and stable fly population. Being a thoughtful cat, I have included the best traps to use for the most common fly types below. Before you get to traps, though, let’s talk fly predators.

Fly predators just sound like some scary little creatures, don’t they? Like The Rock of bugs. The truth is less tough, and more delicate. These little tiny wasps must be protected from the big, bad world so they can do their job of killing baby flies. So a few fly predator tips:

  • Begin releasing them before fly season gets going
  • Release them in early morning or early evening. They don’t like the dark or cold
  • Be sure temperatures are above 45 degrees before you release them
  • Ants really like to eat them. Release them in an area where they are safe from being devoured by ants.
  • They will only travel about 3 feet from where they are released. Plan your release locations wisely to maximize your benefits.

Now for some traps:

For House flies: For Stable flies:






Click here for more about the biting fly trap pictured on the right


For Horse and Deer Flies:

Click here

Click here



 is another great resource with instructions on how to build your own fly traps.

For horn flies: move all cows more than 5 miles away…. yeah. 

If you can’t kill ‘em, repel ‘em

You’ve managed your poop, put out traps, and released the fly predators. Now what? Now you may explore the fly spray/repellent option. Why save this for last? Because fly sprays don’t work very well. Yeah, you thought it was true. This cat confirms it. Fly sprays don’t work very well.

My best fly spray advice is to use it when necessary for short times, and use a whole lot of it at once. Going out for a ride? Douse that pony in fly spray. Once it dries, it’s efficacy (no matter what brand, or homemade concoction it is) decreases dramatically. The only place fly spray works well is against horn flies. Those guys hate the stuff. Paying particular attention to spraying your horse’s belly will also drive them up, and the heat of full-on Florida sun will kill them.

Want slightly better options for long term control? My Docs love a product called Ultra Boss. This is an oil-based pour on designed for cattle, but safe for horses. They usually find 8-10cc strategically placed on various body parts where flies (and gnats) congregate will last for 7-10 days. If you ride often though, it will last more in the 3-5 day range. This product works great to repel gnats!

Speaking of gnats

Ugh! Gnats!! Bad news: there’s no trap, or control method to minimize the horrors of gnats. They like sandy, organic soil. Florida is one giant peninsula of sandy, organic soil. Good news: IBH Salve, SB Salve, and Ultra Boss work great to keep them away from the sensitive areas of your horse’s eyes and face. Also in good news, fly masks and the mosquito mesh turnout sheet from Schneider’s saddlery work pretty darn good to keep them off your horse.

Flies are awful, horrible critters. Help a cat rid the world of these vile creatures. Want even more help? Give my Docs a call. They are ridiculously knowledgeable about flies.