Summertime on our little farm by the sea brings with it blue skies, blue waters and long lazy days to watch the sun rise and fall across them. 💙 It’s a beautiful season in the horses’ world, where they’re content with nothing more than the outdoors and the grass that grows endlessly beneath them; and it’s a time, nomatter how much extra care and support they’ll need again come winter-time, that they can thrive on fresh air and spend all day outside “living horse”. Even as a lover of the cosier autumn and winter seasons, I love to see the daylight extend on the farm come summertime, the fields dry up and the grass grow.
And yet, for Charmer it is a difficult season in some ways, even while he enjoys it in so many others. Every year with the return of the flies and midges to our world comes the challenge of keeping them at bay – for all horses, who get well and truly pestered to some extent, but especially for the 10% in the UK – a huge proportion of whom are in our country, contending with the infamous Scottish midge – my boy included, who suffer from sweet itch.
We’ve been battling with the midges since we first took on Charmer back in 2000, my parents helping me browse the daunting shelves of creams and sprays on offer in our local saddlery in our first week of horse ownership. When he was younger, Charmer used to lose his mane and the hair at the top of his tail every year to the itching that came from his allergy to the saliva of midges, and it made summertime difficult for him.
These days, a combination of the condition improving as he’s got older and of finding the best deterrents and aids to help him particularly (as what “works” often varies from horse to horse), have meant he has a much easier time of enjoying his summer – but it’s still a balancing act, and we couldn’t make it through the April – September months without a little help from our tried and tested products.
Definitely the best sweet itch specific cream we’ve found for Charmer is Carr, Day & Martin’s Killitch, which is excellent for slathering along his mane and tail to protect him, especially earlier in the summer when his winter coat is still coming out and it’s lovely for him to be able to be out of his winter turnout rug but not yet needing to be wrapped up in his fly sheet – just getting to enjoy being caked in mud, sunbathing and rolling in the grass before shaking out all his fluff of the darker months.
Power Phaser too is an excellent spray we use liberally in the summer months – working amazingly well to keep flies, midges and cleggs alike at bay.
A summer fly rug is usually one of the best answers to the problem, keeping him well protected and being light enough not to restrict or overheat him on the warmest days – in fact a white rug to deflect some of the warmth of the sun at its peak is probably quite a relief to a black horse!
This year, we’ve had to add a face mask for the first time after poor Charm’s incessant face rubbing at midge bites opened cuts which were then swooped on by flies – so there’s now barely an inch of him not wrapped up in mesh; but the attack on all fronts seems to be a success, and he’s a fly-free zone… 🙂
We will keep up our campaign against them over the next few weeks, as we’re now well and truly in the swing of, but will enjoy too the uniquely summery pace of life at the farm while we can, and the cloudless skies and glittering sea – until the first tinges of auburn we can already see in the trees creep further around the field, and summer gives way to the freshness of autumn.
Hope you are all having a lovely week. X