Holistic Care Options for Bug Season

Holistic Care Options for Bug Season
It's here!  Bug season! 

The noseeums are out in full force here in VT and I have stocked up with my favorite things to keep my horses protected.  Having a variety of safe options for my horses is a priority for me at this time of year.  There are multiple ways I attack this, let me share with you what I use to keep my horses happy and protected from a variety of pests.

One of the things I've been doing for awhile, and attacks the problem from the inside, is feeding garlic.  I started feeding it seasonally but after learning all the benefits of garlic (read about that in my blog here ), I decided I to feed it daily, year round.  I think it makes a huge difference in keeping the bugs from biting my horses!  I like and use the SpringTime Bug Off Granules.  They are freeze-dried with just garlic as the ingredient.  I feed about a tablespoon per day to each horse.  Because it is so strong, this is something you really need to start off with very small amounts to introduce to your horses.  Gradually you can increase the amounts as they accept the garlic.  Mine have no trouble with it but I also add a couple of essential oils that may help the taste as well.  SpringTime even offers a great buy 2 get 1 free option, when purchasing, along with free shipping at a certain level of dollars spent.

For the face, ears, throat and undersides ( belly and back legs especially) I have had great success with using Young Living Insect Repellent.  It comes in a 6 oz container.  I can use it straight from the bottle as very concentrated as it is or cut it with some ACV and add it to an aerosol spray bottle.  These aerosol bottles are great for putting out a fine mist that works well on their underside area.   

The Insect Repellent also comes in the form of wipes.  These are especially effective and easy to use on the face, ears and neck area.  I also have reused the wipes by adding more of the repellent from the bottle!  They are so handy to throw in a saddle bag, keep with grooming tools or toss in the Holistic Care Equine Emergency Kit.

Last year I discovered the following recipe from a friend and have found it very effective.  I'm not sure if it's the catnip tea, the essential oils or the combination of all of the ingredients but I do like how well it works.  And using the Cleaner, Dish Soap and so many oils for everyday life just makes it easy to whip this up!  I make and keep plenty available so that my spray bottles never run out!  

Spray Recipe from Cherie Ross

1.  Steep 1/2 cup catnip in 1/2 gallon of water, cover and cool to room temp.   Then strain.  A coffee filters works great for final straining.
2.  Add catnip tea to a jug.
3.  Add 1 TBSP Thieves Household Cleaner , 1 TBSP Thieves Dish Soap , 1.5 TBSP neem oil.
4.  Add 20 drops each Citronella, Lemongrass, Kunzea (known as tick bush where it grows native), Basil
5.  Add 10 drops each Hinoki, Copaiba, Peppermint, R.C.  
Shake to mix and shake before each use. 
Pour into a 28-30 oz. spray bottle. Keep out of sun.  

As needed, I also use the Animal Scents Ointment on areas of the skin that may be open but I need to keep the bugs off.  A finger full of this ointment, whipped up, and it soothes the area while keeping pests away.  I have even slathered it on lower legs when the bugs seemed very bad and were bothering Saxon.  It was amazing how well it protected him!

Perhaps this is not what you want to hear but giving your horses a place to roll in a sandy or even muddy area allows them to get relief from the bugs as well.  Having areas like this to indulge in offers them more of the natural lifestyle features that promote balanced horses.  When horses are able to live like horses they tend to be happier with fewer of the problems we see in traditional horse care.  

Looking for more information on holistic care for your horses?  Join our community The Hearts Of Horses, Empowering Through Holistic Care and learn more about supporting your horse's wellness!

All the best,