Horses and ticks – blech! 


First, let me get this off my chest – I HATE TICKS and I really despise horses and ticks.  These bugs give me the willies, make me shudder and cringe, and if I see one I will suddenly get all itchy.  We all know that ticks are hard to see and can transmit really gross diseases, but how can we help our horses be not hospitable hosts?  


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So much ickiness.  I have no idea what species this one is, but at least he’s big enough to spot easily. 


How to prevent ticks around on your horse


  • We must use a multi-tiered approach here: attacking the environment, the tick’s other hosts, and our horses.  
  • Here are the basics – ticks like shade, humidity, overgrown areas, mice, woods, and taller grasses.  So, we can do a lot for our barnyard area and trails if we keep the pastures, paddocks, grassy areas, trails, woody borders, and taller plants trimmed and mowed.  


  • We can’t do a lot about the humidity (what a party trick that would be!) and we are likely out of luck with the woods, but rodent control (read more info here) is within our grasp to manage.  Only trail rides where the trail is wide and low, every blade or twig or branch you pass and brush could have a hungry tick on it. 


  • You can also consider keeping chickens, rumor has it that they like to dine on these buggers. And, I hear the eggs are great, too.  However!  Some ticks love to feast on some types of game birds, chickens, guineas, and turkeys.  You may need to do some research about what ticks live in your area.  





This tick is about the size of a tiny drop of water.  TINY drop of water.  The hair is the SUMMER coat of my horse.  


Horse management and grooming to discourage ticks 


  • We can also manage our horses so ticks are less likely to latch on.  


  • I suggest keeping legs clipped, makes those icky ticks easier to see on the legs at least, and it makes the application of a repellent easier and more evenly coated.


  • The consensus among tick experts is that the pesticides permethrin and cypermethrin are the only ones to use.  Natural botanicals, while greener, don’t work as well. 


  • My veterinarian gave me a spray bottle of Frontline, like the kind for dogs and cats.  I apply monthly, and while I still find ticks, they are dead.  Luckily they die before filling up and getting fat.  Frontline is a topical spray that kills ticks shortly after they start crawling on your horse. 





When given the choice between a mowed path and tickville, stay on the mowed path.  

Tick repellents


  • While riding, apply your choice of repellent and if you use boots or wraps, why not apply to the bottom edge of the boots/wraps, also?


  • Follow up your ride with grooming and inspection, paying close attention to mane, tail, under the tail and ears.  


  • Itching is usually a dead giveaway of a tick! If you find one attached, use gloves and tweezers to grasp very close to the skin and pull (not jerk) out.   I prefer the tick grabby thing that is easy to use with one hand.  


  • The experts agree the old tricks of matches and vaseline don’t work, pull it out and kill it via drowning. And try not to barf when you are doing it!



No tick-touching with this handy tool.


What’s your trick for helping your horse stay tick-free?




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Thank you!