Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Horse flies and weight loss

Most people associate senior horses' weight loss with the winter months. Many elders, however, have problems maintaining healthy weight during the summer. It was Sonny, our 36 year old Palomino gelding, who finally pointed us toward a solution.

After applying yet another "guaranteed" fly repellent to Sonny's legs last summer, we watched in amazement as flies resumed their attack before the spray was thoroughly dry. Sonny stomped and paced and rubbed his muzzle on his legs. This old man was working off precious calories before our eyes.

For reasons we do not yet understand, flies seem to be attracted to the lower legs of "frail" horses more than they are attracted to other parts of the body or to more robust animals. One possible reason is that many of these horses are dentally challenged and eat "mush" which they then wipe on their legs while trying to shoo flies on their own. No amount of wiping, washing, currying or brushing seems to remove the microscopic morsels that brings flies running.

Fly sprays are often ineffective and ointments like Swat work only sporadically, but...........

.......fly boots work wonders! The first time we asked Sonny to wear boots, he stood quietly as we adjusted the velcro straps. As soon as the stall door opened, though, he launched into the air and bucked his way into the sunshine and down the length of the field (MYTH: Old horses are "bombproof". REALITY: They are not any more bombproof than horses in other age ranges.) By the end of the day he realized how much more comfortable he was and now stands at his gate after breakfast waiting for his "booties" before returning to the field. Maintaining his weight is no longer a problem.

Many of TREES' residents wear fly boots now. (Boots are removed at night.) Even horses who did not appear to be overly stressed by flies seem more content and require less feed to maintain a healthy weight. Yes, getting everybody "dressed" in the morning takes a few extra minutes, but the results are worth every second.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

AWESOME thanks Chris :)
As you know Cozee Valee has taken in an older pony who is to be in her mid to late 40's. Sasha also wipes her food all over her legs and I have tried EVERYTHING that I can think of to keep the flies away from her.
I will be looking for thre boots ASAP!