Whilst we are all looking forward to the long summer days this year, spare a thought for our equine friends who may not have quite so much to look forward to. Summer brings with it some unpleasant nasties, one in particular is flies…and a dangerous place for them to linger is around the equines delicate eye area. It can be quite distressing for some horses, who toss their heads about and rub their faces in an attempt to rid the pests. Flies are attracted to the secretions from the eyes and can even lay eggs within the folds of the lower lids- this is something to look out for. Apart from infections caused by the flies themselves horses can also badly damage their eyes by rubbing on objects such as fence posts, shelters etc.
So what can we do?
A good start would be to invest in a fly mask or fly fringe. Masks prevent to flies getting to the eyes yet still ensure the horse has good visibility though them. Be sure they fit well and will release in the event of your equine friend getting caught up. Also check under them daily so that you can monitor their eye health and ensure no flies have slid in anywhere. Some masks will also cut down the harmful UV rays, especially useful on delicate pink skinned horses. Masks and fringes will need washing regularly to prevent dirt build up.
Fly repellents will also help, although peoples opinions on which is the most efficient brand vary greatly!Be careful not to get products too close to the eye area and never use sprays on the face. Keep the fronts legs of the horse in particular clean, as this is a favourite rub spot for a horses irritated eyes.
Your equines eyes should be bright, clear,wide open with no discharge. If they are not then call your vet to be on the safe side. He may need antibiotics and the eyes are no place to take chances with. Uveitis is a painful condition that can lead to blindness. Have a read here so that you can learn to spot the signs as it can be caused by a number of things that your horse is exposed to daily, including parasites.
Some useful links: