A common question ‘fly’-ing through every barn and across online bulletin boards is, "What fly spray will keep my horse calm and comfortable in the ‘buggy’ seasons, but not break my budget?" Horse Tack Review is here to help answer that very question! For this review, we provided our tester with six fly sprays. All were traditional formulas, and $9.99 and under. Our goal was to discover which fly spray gives you more bang for your buck. As we all know, a $4.99 fly spray is only cost effective if it actually works! Our tester commented on both the pro's and con's of each spray, and in the end, decide which fly spray was the BEST for your money.
Our tester used 3 horses for this review: Cricket, Itchy, and Cowboy (a thin-skinned Paint gelding who is a perfect test horse for fly spray - very sensitive and he’s going to tell you what does and does not work!) This test was conducted in Florida, where heat and insects go hand in hand.
First up, and at the high-end of our under price range at $9.99, is Pyranha® Wipe N' SprayTM for Horses. This spray is available as both a spray bottle or aerosol, and we chose to test the 15oz aerosol. Pyranha is a pyrethrins-based formula that is applied directly to the horse. The manufacturer notes that it “kills and repels stable flies, deer flies, house flies, horse flies, face flies, horn flies, gnats and mosquitoes. The ready-to-use formula provides fly protection and imparts a high sheen to the horse's hair when brushed--contains lanolin to condition coat. Citronella scented." As a horse fly landed on Cowboy’s knee, the spraying commenced, the test began, and you could almost hear the sigh of relief. Our tester loved the easy use of this fly spray - the aerosol formula covered the horse easily, and the hoof stomping and tail wringing ended immediately. This fly spray DID give a sheen to the horse’s coat when brushed in thoroughly, however, also made it greasy and stick up funny in spots. The scent of the Pyranha spray was displeasing; the almost chemical-like fumes were intoxicating. For application to the horse’s face and ears, a wiping method was used; spraying the product into the hand and applying it to the face and ears. Cowboy was ridden bareback after applying this spray. Though the Pyranha has made the horse’s coat somewhat greasy, our tester did not slip or slide around while riding bareback. Cowboy focused much more on his job then the flies. By the end of the ride, no more mosquitoes or horseflies were bothering him, but the gnats were back. Overall, this fly spray is a good, effective fly spray for around the barn, but it wouldn't be recommended for use prior to a show. This was simply due to the greasiness factor.
Next was the very popular, and very low priced Farnam Bronco® Water-Based Equine Fly Spray for Horses. This fly spray appeals to many horse owners because of it's extremely low price of $4.99. But, does it do all that it claims? The description reads as "Non-irritating, water-based, ready-to-use pyrethrin and permethrin formula repels and kills house flies, horn flies, stable flies, deer flies and horse flies, also mosquitoes, lice and gnats." Unfortunately, our reviewer didn't see any testimony to that description. Cowboy was sprayed when he began to stomp from flies. It may have been just as effective to just spray water. The bugs flew off, then returned to the precise spot that they'd been only a minute before! Bronco® was tested on more than one occasion to make sure it simply wasn’t on a day that was too buggy, with similar results.
In the mid-price range of the fly sprays we tested, at $6.99, is Absorbine’s Flys-X Ready To Use Spray for Horses. Flys-X claims that it "Protects against horn flies, house flies, mosquitoes and gnats. Effective and fast-acting. Contains pyrethrin." Cricket was the tester for this spray. Before application, she was stomping and wriggling all over the cross-ties to escape from the flies. Our tester applied this product to her body, and then sprayed it into their hands, and applied it to the horse’s face. Finally, the wriggling ceased. Flys-X did not leave an oily residue on the horse’s coat, nor did it become soft. Unfortunately, the effectiveness wore off pretty quickly. Within 15 minutes, a few flies were back on her body, and barely an hour later, after she was ridden, gnats and flies were on her again, and another application was surely needed.
Another spray at the higher end of our price range is Farnam Repel-X, at $8.99. Repel-X is stated to be a “ready-to-use, economical formula effective against six fly species, mosquitoes, gnats, chiggers, fleas and ticks, including deer ticks which may transmit Lyme disease. Long-lasting water-base formula is mixed at 1:4 and contains natural pyrethrins." Our tester again used Repel-X on Cowboy before going out for a ride bareback. In the barn pre-ride, flies stayed off of him for a while (around ten minutes), but a few stray flies began to venture back, so a re-application was needed. After fifteen minutes of riding, Cowboy was swishing his tail like crazy, and shaking his head to rid himself of those pesky bugs. By the end of a half hour ride, he was slightly sweaty, and had bugs flying around him. He was then hosed off, and a more effective spray was used. Maybe Florida is just too full of biting-insects, but Repel-X just wasn't up to par.
Not unlike Farnam Bronco®, Manna Pro® Equine Fly & Mosquito Spray also appeals to the budget-conscious crowd at $4.99. Manna Pro® Equine Fly & Mosquito Spray's description reads, "Ready-to-use spray or wipe for use on horses and ponies, and their premises. Controls pests for up to 4 weeks. Protects against horse flies, stable flies, face flies, deer flies, house flies, horn flies, mosquitoes, and gnats." Unfortunately, our tester didn't see any proof to this claim ten minutes after application. After immediate application, the flies went elsewhere... but within ten minutes, they were back again, happily irritating the horses. In this instance, the small price to pay for a quart of this spray... wouldn't be worth the money.
Finally, our tester’s overall pick for this review: Country Vet® Fly & Mosquito Equine Protection Pack. This pack sells for $6.99, and contains one 4.5oz Highly Active Farm and Home spray, and one 3oz Fly and Mosquito Foam for Horses. Both Cowboy and Itchy were used in this test, and this duo of pest protection passed with flying colors. Country Vet® Fly & Mosquito Equine Protection Pack is advertised as, "Fly and mosquito protection for your horse. Kills and repels flying insects and mosquitoes, which may carry disease such as West Nile Virus and Encephalitis. Kills and repels horse flies, stable flies, deer flies, and more." The aerosol application of the spray appealed to our tester once again, since it's so easy to apply. Cowboy stood next to a horse with flies all over it, and not once did one land on him. Although this spray is not advertised as a coat conditioner, after one application of Highly Active Farm and Home spray, both Cowboy and Itchy's coats were soft, shiny, and lying flat. Then the Fly and Mosquito Foam for Horses was applied to both of their faces (they both tend to have sensitive skin on their faces.) Although the amount you spray in your hand may seem like a lot, it's not! Use more rather than less when applying this foam, as it tends to evaporate rather quickly. The foam surprisingly smelled really good, and there were no objections on the application to either Cowboy or Itchy's faces and ears. Both horses were ridden, and were still fly-free at the end of an hour ride. The tester’s only real complaint is that although this duo seems to last a while, the pack only includes small amounts of these products. You can buy 10oz of the Fly and Mosquito foam for $5.99, and 16oz of the Highly Active Farm and Home spray for $12.99. Though it's exceeding the $10 budget, the $2.99 extra is well worth it. Upon seeing the effectiveness of this protection pack, a friend of our tester went out and purchased two sets!
Though all of the products tested initially repelled flies from the horses, we do not want a product that we must reapply every few minutes. I guess the old saying “you get what you pay for” can be true for horse fly sprays like so many things. But as we have found, you don’t need to spend $20 for the newest product on the market. So our tester’s overall pick? The spray most worth your money on a under $10 budget, is the Country Vet® Fly & Mosquito Equine Protection Pack.