6 Best Fly Sprays for Horses That Really Work

6 Best Fly Sprays for Horses That Really Work

Flies are not just a nuisance for your horse—because they can carry disease, they’re a hazard as well. But how many times have you tried a horse fly spray that didn’t live up to the hype? As enthusiastic equestrians ourselves, we’ve had the same experience! We’ve tested dozens of sprays to find the ones that work best. In this post, we’re sharing our tips for how to use sprays most effectively, in addition to the six most effective horse fly sprays we’ve discovered. 

How to keep flies off your horse

Keeping your horse healthy and safe means implementing a fly-management plan to keep these pests at bay. Unfortunately, you can’t entirely eliminate flies, but you can take great strides toward reducing the population. The best way to get rid of flies is to make your horse and the area around your horse less hospitable to them. 

Create a no-fly zone

You can do this by:

  • Removing nearby water sources
  • Tightly containing trash bins
  • Keeping the area clean of manure
  • Using fans to circulate air
  • Pasturing horses away from livestock
  • Implementing traps designed to remove flies
  • Using barriers like fly sheets, masks, and boots that cover the horse to provide protection from flies
  • Applying fly spray to your horse

Another option is installing a barn spray system. This involves running tubing around your barn that periodically dispenses fine droplets of fast-acting insecticide into the air. However, these systems can be costly to set up, and they kill helpful insects alongside unwanted pests. Some horses and people may also experience a reaction to the insecticide, so they’re often not the best solution.

Use fly veils, masks, and sheets

If your horse just can’t shake the flies, consider adding a physical barrier between your horse and the flies. Fly veils, fly masks, and fly sheets are coverings made to protect your horse’s ears, face, and body from flies.

Fly veils, also known as ear bonnets, reduce the noise and keep flies away from your horse’s ears. They also come in many colors and styles, so your horse can be focused and stylish for your next spring or summer competition.

Fly masks cover your horse’s ears, but they also protect your horse’s eyes, nose, and face. The mesh material has a cooling effect and allows your horse to see while keeping the flies away. 

Fly sheets cover the areas a horse blanket would but are made of an anti-fly mesh material that keeps your horse cool in warmer weather. They provide full-body protection, and they’re quick-drying to shield flies even when it rains. 

Use these fly covers together for maximum protection, or use them in conjunction with another form of protection, such as a fly spray.

Use fly spray for horses

One of the most effective fly control solutions is treating the horse with fly spray. Fly sprays are cost-effective, can be used on an as-needed basis, and target the problem directly by making the horse less hospitable to flies.

6 best fly sprays for horses

As you might expect, there are a lot of options for fly sprays for horses. Here are six that we’ve tested and recommend:

1. UltraShield Ex Fly Spray ($30.95 for 32 oz.)

Absorbine sets a new standard for insect protection with their Ultra Shield Ex. It kills and repels over 70 insect species for up to 17 days with a sweat-resistant insecticide formula. This effective water-based spray contains sunscreens and conditioners with aloe and lanolin for your horse’s safety and a great-looking coat—and it can be used on dogs, too!

2. Pyranha Wipe ‘N Spray ($26.00 for 32 oz.)

This highly-rated pyrethrum-based solution can be sprayed directly on your horse and provides excellent protection. It kills and repels many kinds of flies, as well as gnats and mosquitoes. Thanks to a lanolin additive for coat conditioning, this spray produces a striking sheen that will make your horse the belle of the barn. Pyranha Wipe ‘N Spray offers effective protection with only two ounces per head, making it an economical and effective option.

3. Absorbine Flys X Insecticide Spray ($14.95 for 32 oz.)

This fly spray is economical, versatile, and ready-for-use. It’s a contact killer that works effectively on flies, as well as mosquitoes, gnats, and lice. The water-based formula doesn’t leave an oily residue, keeping the mess to a minimum. Flys X Insecticide Spray is safe to use on your horse, dog, and livestock.

4. SWAT Fly Repellent Ointment ($14.00 for 7 oz.)

SWAT is a pyrethrin fly-repellent ointment formulated to use around sores, scratches, wounds, and abrasions. It’s an ideal treatment for hard-to-reach and sensitive areas or for your horse’s ears, face, or legs. Effective for hours after application, SWAT can be used for daily fly control on horses, ponies, and dogs.

5. BRONCO Equine Fly Spray ($7.95 for 32 oz.)

Budget-friendly, versatile, and ready-to-use, Farnam’s Bronco Equine Fly Spray is a water-based formula that repels flies, as well as gnats, ticks, fleas, chiggers and lice. This fly spray leaves a clean feel and a pleasant citronella scent that assists in repelling a variety of bugs.

6. Enviro Equine All Natural Fly Spray Plus ($34.95 for 32 oz.)

If you’re looking for a natural and cruelty-free fly spray, Enviro Equine has you covered. This pH-balanced solution with a unique blend of natural surfactants and essential oils effectively repels flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and other pests. Lasting up to 8 hours, it can be used safely on your horse, dog, and even you! The added camelina oil nourishes the coat and skin, leaving it shiny and soft.

How to use horse fly sprays

If you haven’t used a horse fly spray before, there’s a few steps you’ll want to follow to prioritize correct application and your horse’s comfort and safety.

  1. Get your horse acclimated to the sound of the spray bottle before using it.
  2. Curry and brush your horse thoroughly to remove loose dirt and hair.
  3. Before applying the spray, read the manufacturer’s instructions. Some may suggest that you brush hair against the direction of growth as your spray
  4. Start applying at the hooves, working your way up and making sure not to spray directly on the horse’s face.
  5. To cover the face, spray treatment on a rag and then apply to the face. Wipe in a downward motion over the eyes (instead of up) to prevent the treatment from getting into the eyes.
  6. With a rag, wipe down inside and outside of the ears, as well as the midline.
  7. After spraying, wait an adequate amount of time for the spray to dry. This will prevent the heat and pressure in the saddle area from interacting with the spray and causing irritation

Horse fly sprays can be used whenever they’re needed. They can be used as a daily repellent if you find consistent issues, or you can apply them when you see your horse has an issue. Check the bottle to see how long the treatment will remain effective—some last for hours, but others can last for multiple days or even weeks.

Oil vs. water vs. alcohol: which fly sprays are best?

There are pros and cons to each type of fly spray. The base’s job is to hold the active ingredients in the spray to the horse’s hair. While this is important, your horse’s comfort and health are far more important.

Observe how your horse reacts to the spray, and switch to a different one if they resist or if you notice their skin is drying out. If your horse prefers a fly spray that doesn’t last as long, you may need to apply it more frequently. You may also need to adjust your fly control plan on a seasonal basis (for example, switch from a water-based spray in the summer when your horse sweats more).

Oil-based fly sprays 

Oil-based fly sprays do not evaporate as quickly as others, so they are longer-lasting. However, the oil does attract dirt and can dry out the horse’s skin. Oil also attracts the sun, so oil-based sprays should be used with sunscreen to prevent sunburn.

Water-based fly sprays 

Water-based fly sprays are not as long-lasting as oil-based fly sprays, but they do attract less dirt. These are best for horses with sensitive skin because they are the least drying.

Alcohol-based fly sprays 

Alcohol-based fly sprays evaporate more slowly than oil- or water-based sprays, and they don’t attract dirt. The biggest drawback is that they can be very drying to horse’s skin.

Alternatives to fly spray

Fly Predators

If you’re looking for a chemical-free fly control option, Fly Predators could be the way to go. These tiny, non-stringing wasps are shipped as larvae so that you can toss them on the manure pile when they mature. Harmless to humans, these Fly Predators eat fly larvae and can be highly effective at controlling the fly population. If you board your horse or have neighboring farming, this method will need to be implemented at all farms within a quarter-mile radius to be fully effective.

Insect growth regulator

An insect growth regulator (IGR) is a supplement that you can give your horse. It’s consumed as a pellet in the horse’s feed and breaks down at the end of the digestion cycle. Any eggs laid on the horse’s manure are unable to develop an exoskeleton, meaning they can’t fly away and reproduce. This is a great way to proactively control the fly population.

Feed your horse garlic

If you’re feeling a little on the hippy side, many people claim there are benefits to feeding your horse garlic. Adding garlic powder to your animal’s feed is said to deter flies from irritating livestock, horses included. Start small with one teaspoon daily, and increase in small doses until you see results. Do not exceed two tablespoons per day. Some say they see results in about a week, while others say it can take up to four weeks to see the full effects of using garlic powder.

Buzz off, flies!

Implementing fly control for horses is a necessary part of ownership. While these pests are certainly annoying, it’s not impossible to deal with them. The best way to manage this issue is a multi-pronged approach that involves treating your horse’s environment along with your horse. Choose a great fly spray, and you will have a much happier horse!

Have questions about the horse fly sprays we carry? Give us a call at 864-457-3557—we’re happy to help!

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Snacking on the excess blood and scarred/healing tissues behind them! If we could do away with the bitey-bugs, we’ll eliminate the regular flies in the process. I’m not a fan of chemical treatments, so which of these products is both safe and effective at repelling the bitey bugs? Thanks!


Our equine trio (horse, mule and donkey) are being marauded by horse and deer flies! The regular flies are swarming in behind the bitey bugs, snacking on

I really wish they hadn’t discontinue Zonk it! 35
Carl Denton

The pyranha aerosol spray is another favorite for bugs in the Deep South! That plus swat ointment = chefs kiss


Though I agree that the top two work very well, they smell dreadful! My horses have made it clear they would prefer not to be sprayed with either of those sprays. I use others that don’t work as well, but are far more agreeable to my horses.

Lisa Rossman

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