It’s that Time of Year Again
Yes, it’s time for nasty little buzzing critters to wake up and start chewing on my poor horses. Flurry tolerates a lot – yesterday I picked eight Mouches Plats from his nether regions after a trek – EIGHT! Aero would have gone berserk! The Mouches Plats have been around for a few weeks now but, all of a sudden, there are loads of tiny little bloodsucking flies, who seem to target the sheath area in geldings (poor boys), innumerable stable-fly type thingies as well as quite a lot of horse and deer flies around, too.
Aero seems less bothered by the little buzzers than he was last year, but nonetheless, I decided it was time for him to wear his new fly-rug. His new, very expensive, Bucas Zebra Stripe fly sheet that the LHS picked up when he was in Ireland in April. TaDa!!!
The theory behind the stripes is that flies are confused by the pattern and are unable to see the horse’s shape. Here’s a quote from the Bucas product launch :
… researchers carried out a similar trial on model horses covered in glue. At the end of 59 days, the black horse had caught 562 flies, the brown one 334, the white one 22 and the zebra patterned horse had just 8! It is thought that the flies find the stripes confusing and as a result they tend to steer clear.
I was well impressed. Aero was standing tied at the rail, twitching and stamping flies off his body. I put the rug on and Voilà, all stamping and twitching ceased as the flies simply disappeared. I guess that from a fly perspective, their buffet suddenly vanished into thin air!
I do have a couple of gripes about the rug, though :
The elasticated brow band is a waste of time. I fixed it nicely over Aero’s ears and the moment he lowered his head to graze, his ears popped straight out as the elastic slid back along his neck.
There is no adjusting whatsoever of the metal fastener at the chest. There are sturdy velcro straps and the front is nicely padded but it would be nice to be able to give a couple of extra centimetres. Aero has a big front for his size – he’s all shoulder – and this rug is tight in front and, shall we say, ample behind.
The belly-guard is clipped on to the inside of the rug by plastic clips which, again, have no possibility for adjustment. Yes, the sides of the belly-guard are elasticated, but it is stretched to it’s limit on Aero – and he is not fat!
Those plastic clips on the belly-guard and on the leg straps strike me as being very breakable. Time will tell… but for the price, you’d think that Bucas would have used high-quality metal clips.
Every fly-rug I have ever used on Aero slips backwards and this one is no exception. What it means for the belly-guard, though, is that one edge of it ends up right beside his sheath and there is no way it’s not going to get pee’d on.
The LSH also bought the matching fly mask, due mostly to a good sales assistant. It has a single velcro strap to hold it in place under the chin and seems quite loose. I suspect I will only use it once – there are so many trees and bushes in the paddock for it to be caught on that I reckon I will find it in pieces the morning after I put it on.
I think that I will jettison the belly-guard fairly quickly, leaving the rug held in place with just the breast buckle and the leg straps. Has anyone ever tried this with a fly-rug? The ones I used last year had cross-over surcingles, with the option of adding a belly-guard on top.
Anyway, it was time to return Aero to his paddock and his buddies. MoMo and Flurry were not impressed when they saw a Zorse coming…
I was taking Flurry out to do some work, and as we walked back up the hill, I could see that MoMo was giving the Zorse a careful going-over.
Despite my gripes, I am impressed so far with the stripy rug! And I think Aero is too…
PS If Bucas would like to donate a second Zebra rug for poor naked Flurry so that I can continue this valuable research in our fly-infested paradise, I’d be delighted to hear from them!