The Old-Time Way to Fly-Proofing Your Horses

I was born to ranch life, and if there is one thing that turns me on, it is trying out old homemade remedies and animal care articles. A regular favorite of mine is an ancient cowboy preparation used by people in my part of the world in western Colorado to keep their horses free from those pesky flies.

So, are you all agog about this preparation? It’s a highly classified, for-your-eyes-only secret of the ranches around here.

Confidentially, just between you and me, here is the secret: bacon grease.

You heard that right. I did say bacon grease. You pour it out right out of the frying pan into an aluminum can once you’ve finished with the breakfast chores. At one time, I fill up bacon grease to the brim in three or four big soup cans, mostly during winter, and then use the grease generously during spring, summer, and fall to keep the flies off the horses and keep the horses happy. I store the grease in the freezer or the refrigerator when it is not in use.

How to Use the Bacon Grease

Though it may be a little messy, using the grease is totally uncomplicated. Take a can of bacon grease out of storage and heat it until it becomes a little glutinous and starts to run. Then apply the grease liberally to your horse. Spread it around your horse’s eyes, ears, and face. Splash it all round your horse’s middle, top and bottom. Don’t spare the throat, chest, belly, and all the areas around the hind legs and the rump. Make sure you cover the midline from the withers to the tail head. If your horse seems to have an itchy tail, you want to dab on a bit of grease on the tail head, too.

Off-the-shelf fly sprays are not very effective beyond a few hours. Bacon grease will keep the flies at arm’s length for anywhere up to a week. Bacon grease spares none of the fly types: the regulars, the giant horse type, mosquitoes, and even those pestilential “no-see-ums,” the tiny critters with the noticeable bite that you can barely see.

I can certify that bacon grease works like a charm from personal experience. Two of my horses are ultra-sensitive to flies and mosquitoes. One of them, my quarter horse gelding Maker, goes nuts if a giant horse fly lands on him, bucking and swapping ends like he is trying to shorten his limbs by a couple of inches. When he’s got the war grease on, though, he is cool. My other touchy horse, my mustang mare, gets welts, rashes and swellings when flies bite her. She too finds great relief from regular applications of bacon grease.

The Inside Track to Repelling Flies

As long as you are not allergic to smelling like a short-order cook in a windowless and fanless kitchen after sessions with the horses and bacon grease, it is one swell remedy for keeping the flies away from your horses. However, bacon grease may not be enough for horses with hide that is sensitive to fly bites. For such horses, too, I have wonder recipes in the form of some nutritional supplements that help prime the system from the inside. Two of these recipes are high-quality mangosteen juice and apple cider vinegar.

Every day, I treat my extra-sensitive horses to an ounce of XanGo mangosteen juice. I mix the juice in their feed or simply squirt it into their mouths with a syringe. My mare, the one who gets welts when flies bite her, is much less susceptible after imbibing the juice. Flies seem to get turned off when my gelding Maker has had some of the juice. In the days before I found mangosteen juice, I used to mix up a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar with the feed given to my horses twice a day. I have also had success with using apple cider vinegar topically to repel flies. I usually mix the vinegar with water and Avon’s Skin So Soft and apply it.

Experience has taught me that the optimum combination of home remedies to keep my horses safe from flies is coats of bacon grease on the exterior and doses of XanGo mangosteen juice or apple cider vinegar to the interior. This combination works like a charm in keeping my horses happy and fly-resistant the organic way!

About Heather Toms

Heather Toms is an article writer for
Horses are her passion and she enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of horses with other horse lovers.
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