There are (almost) no flies on me! (horse fly repellent update)

Lucy and Elektra - no flies on them!

I had the first success with my home-made fly spray today. As the temps here are now over 30 degrees C, I thought it would be a good time to test out my recipe.

I mixed up a litre of apple cider vinegar with some water, many drops of tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil and rose geranium essential oil and gave both Elektra and Lucy, our Haflinger mare a good spraying.

(I’m going to add eucalyptus and maybe citronella essential oils too.)

11 yr. old Emily ponying 3 yr. old Elektra from 20 + yr. old Lucy.


I took both horses onto the outdoor school to work them. I rode Lucy and led or “ponied” Elektra. I worked them for about 30 min. on the outdoor school, practising leading Elektra from both sides of Lucy – leading her with my left hand and then changing sides to lead her with my right hand. *

Here Emily is leading Elektra with her left hand.




For me to change sides meant that Lucy had to stand still whilst I sent Elektra around her, either passing in front of Lucy or behind her, depending on how I sent her away from me.

Lucy stood quietly without shaking, stamping or getting agitated, but the most spectacular effect was with Elektra – she was a different horse to work with. No more violent pawing, violent head-shaking or throwing herself on the ground. Even though we had helicopter-sized (and sounding!) horse-flies buzzing around us, they kept their distance and we could enjoy an almost fly-free and therefore stress-free 30 min. on the outdoor school.

Then we went for a short ride out in the woods. I have led Elektra out on foot on a few occasions, but this was the first time I’d ridden Lucy and ponied Elektra from Lucy anywhere other than the round pen or outdoor school. It was lovely to ride in the shady woods and both horses behaved beautifully.

Afterwards, I gave them a small feed into which I put unpasteurised apple cider vinegar.  Apparently, adding a little apple cider vinegar to a horse’s water or feed raises the pH of the horse’s blood sufficiently to put flies off from biting, thereby creating an internal fly repellent.

I am delighted with the results, but more importantly, so are Elektra and Lucy!

In some areas, bulk quantities of apple cider vinegar for horses can be hard to find. However, you can order 5 litre containers from Amazon.UK using the link below.

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* Ponying a horse: The handler rides a well-trained horse whilst leading a second horse next to the first horse. The second horse is usually in a halter with a lead rope and is being led by the handler from the first horse with that lead rope.
The second horse is the horse being ponied. This horse’s head is usually kept on a level with the rider’s knee. Ponying is used often when starting young horses.
It is a progression from ground work to prepare horses for being ridden. The horse being ponied must already lead well and yield to pressure and know how to follow the direction suggested by the handler.
As you don’t want “the blind leading the blind” your first horse must be a well-behaved horse, well-trained and listen well to your requests of him in order to assist you with ponying the horse in training.
More about ponying to come in a later edition.
Use the comment box on the blog itself to send me your questions about horse training. You can also write in about any problems you might be having with your horse.Either I or one of the resident expert trainers will do our best to answer your questions.

Understand your horse better & communicate more effectively. The Thinking Horse DVD -  a must-have DVD for horse owners! Click here to see sample exercises and order your copy.

Always wear appropriate safety items of clothing, gloves, shoes and head protection when handling or riding your horse. There is always some risk involved in horse training for both you and the horse. Be sensible and stay within your level of training. This information illustrates the training methods and techniques I and my colleagues use. It is your responsibility to use it wisely. It is not intended to replace personal instruction from a professional instructor. Keep yourself and your horse out of trouble. if you wish to learn more about these methods contact us at:

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Thinking Horse DVD Click here to see sample exercises.




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