Thursday, July 31, 2008

Horse Flies

There are many things in this life that I wonder about, I suppose that the good Lord allowed us to have some things just to teach us patience and endurance. But some things just seem to have no purpose in this world.

No matter how much I try, I can see no purpose for mosquitoes or wasps, other than to test your reflexes and speed. I can tolerate flies for the most part and at times enjoy a little swat practice.

However, there is one thing that I am appalled by more than mosquitoes and wasps, that is horse flies. Just what is their purpose? If I think real hard and am generous with my horse fly evaluation, perhaps I could say that they make enjoyable entertainment for sadistic horse gazers.

My Grandson and I were watching our Grullo Stallion yesterday who was being pursued by an average horse fly. This horse fly was no more intelligence than any other horse fly that I have known. All horse flies are brilliantly clever. They know just where to land on a horse's rump in order to stay aboard for the maximum amount of time.

Poor Badger was doing all sorts of calisthenics, stretching his neck as far as it could reach, while stretching his legs out straight in front of him and he just couldn't get it.

He did a series of bucks, twists and jumps in the air, but that didn't work either. So he finally ran to just the right spot and threw himself on the ground and rolled in the mud. That did the trick, the problem was that as he was getting back on his feet the fly just landed again in the same spot.

Badger is not a slow learner, the next time he rolled, he jumped back up on his feet and was out of there. He ran as hard and fast as he could, trying to outrun the horse fly, but to no avail. My Grandson and I didn't really enjoy the show that he was putting on but we did watch it.

When our Appaloosa stallion gets a horse fly on him, he runs to the fence and waits for me to whack it with the broom. If you whack a horse with a broom at any other time of the year, they take offense at it. But during horse fly season they love it.

It can be very dangerous to go into the herd during horse fly season, which usually just runs through the month of August here. The horses will run under each other's head and neck in order to scrape the offending fly off of their backs. They will also run right towards you and quickly turn their rumps to you and if you are not quick enough with the slap, they will continue to squirm and buck right in close proximity to you. Horses tend to forget about respecting your space during horse fly season.

Another thing that I guess you could credit the horse fly with, is teaching trail riders better horsemanship skills. While some horses do not lose their minds when a horse fly lands on their rumps, some go ballistic. I have one of the ballistic types myself. I haven't ridden him in a few years, because of my back but he and horse flies are the reason that I have a hard time understanding why Cowboys don't like to ride bucking broncs in rodeos. It was easy enough for me, a Grandmother.

My AQHA gelding, Dan, always was super sensitive and overreacted to horse flies on his rump. If I heard the fly then I could prepare myself for the bucking that would ensue but if the fly did a silent landing by using their sophisticated stealth mode, then I was caught off guard.

Riding a bucking horse while trying to turn around and swat a horse fly should be a rodeo event. At one point, I could possibly have made it to the rodeo finals and might even have been the world champion bronc buster/swatter.

Dan never bucked me off but then he never bucked the horse fly off either, so I didn't get the point. He did manage to get me off one time but not by bucking and not by a horse fly.

I was riding third in a string of three riders, the first rider startled the yellow jackets, the second rider made the yellow jackets mad, Dan and I were the object of their wrath. I didn't know what was happening, he just turned into a quivering mass under me. I could sense that he was about to explode. I baled off on his right side when I saw a yellow jacket on his neck. I ran as fast as I could through the woods, the problem was that he didn't know what to do, so he ran as fast as he could after me.

I managed not to get stung or ran over somehow. After we were far away from the nest, we stopped and regrouped. We picked several dead yellow jackets out of Dan's mane and tail.

I am prepared for horse fly season this year. After trying several horse fly traps that didn't work, I am taking a different approach. I researched horse flies on the internet and found that you can attract them with the color blue. It has to be a pool blue, I know this is true because they love my swimming pool. I ordered some sticky goo last year on ebay, I forget what it is called but you can smear it on something that is swimming pool blue and the horse flies will land on it and get stuck.

The article that I read said that you can get a child's blue sand bucket and put it on a stick and walk it through your horse herd or put it on a vehicle and drive around the horses. You can even get a hat that color and smear it with the sticky stuff and walk through your herd.

I will try it out when the flies get to be more of a problem here and post my results in a blog.
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