Product Review: Ecovet Fly Spray

Every summer, I squirm when it comes to choosing a fly spray. The thought of coating my horse, and by proximity, myself, in a cloud of chemicals is not something I would regularly opt into. But Jack is the biggest princess when it comes to flies, and so riding with fly spray is an absolute must.

With this in mind, I try to choose more “natural” type fly sprays (though let’s be serious, there’s probably always some degree of chemical nature) as much as possible. So when my local Dover peeps told me about the updated Ecovet fly spray, I decided to give it a shot.

First of all, it’s worth mentioning that Ecovet is meant to act differently than your typical fly spray. Here’s the description straight from their website:

Insects choose a “victim” via a complex interaction between visual and chemical cues. Some animals (and people) are more attractive to pests than others. In our equine friends, coat color, level of activity, carbon dioxide output and odors secreted by the horse all play a role. The normal output of chemical smells acts like a signal to the insect’s guidance system to help it find and attack its potential food source.

Research has shown that certain fatty acids act as insect attractants, while others are repellents. Ecovet uses a proprietary mixture of naturally occurring fatty acids that confuses and overwhelms the insect’s normal directional ability, so the insect is unable to locate your horse as its next victim. It’s like having a GPS system that is shouting confusing and conflicting directions at you … until you finally give up.

So what’s the verdict?

The Good
Overall, this product does seem to work. Inside the barn and indoor, where flies are less but still exist, we have nary a bother after applying the Ecovet. I do tend to only apply this fly spray to Jack’s legs and under belly, and typically we are able to get through an entire ride indoors without being bugged (har, har) at all.

Less of this, thank goodness.

Outside in the fields on our conditioning days, where the flies are quite bad, I would also say the Ecovet is compelling enough to keep most flies as bay. However, the caveat is that I cannot get away with just spraying his legs and belly- outdoor days for us mean a whole body application. And though I still find myself swatting away the occasional fly, overall I would compare this with other effective fly sprays.

The Bad
Holy shit, the smell. I was told in the store that apparently this stuff used to smell like old man’s cologne in the worst possible way, and now they have come up with a new scent. (PS the bottle even says, rather proudly, ‘New Scent!’). So I can’t speak for the old smell, but I sure as hell can comment on the new. It’s as if Dove soap had the potency of fresh Wasabi, and formed a lingering cloud that you willingly walked into every time you sprayed it. Like Ecovet not only confuses bugs, but it also has a nose-identifying ingredient, where it immediately makes a beeline to and takes up residence, causing a sneezing frenzy in any creature unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity. The sneezing fits are quite violent, actually, and I’ve learned the hard way not to be holding a beverage in my other hand while spraying.

Actual video of Jack during application

The instructions say to apply Ecovet in a well ventilated area, and we learned within one application to take this very, very seriously. Our routine has been to walk outside to a grazing area, quickly spray Ecovet with much haste, and scurry away to an upwind location as fast as possible. Looking into this further, I did find one “helpful” tidbit on the Ecovet site:

Why did Ecovet make me and my horse sneeze?
The fatty acids in Ecovet, when delivered in spray form, do react with a small number of horses and people. Most describe it as a “sticking” sensation that does go away.

Uh, yeah- sticking. Does go away? sure- after you have expelled the entire contents of your nose. Unfortunately once, our barn manager was walking through the aisle as I sprayed outside, and a cross breeze carried the cloud directly into her. Let’s just say after many four letter words being expelled, it’s certain that the “small number of horses and people” is not limited to a sample size of Jack and I.

Overall
In general, I’d say Ecovet is probably worth the extra bucks if a more “green” insect repellent is your thing, and especially if you don’t have the sneezing reaction that some people experience. For our sanity and our sinuses, I’m going to give a few other fly sprays a try before considering coming back to Ecovet, but I can’t say the stuff doesn’t work!

Let’s Discuss: Your trainer’s mantra

Though lessons have been… less than consistent over the last 2 months, I still try to make my rides worthwhile and keep my trainers’ voices in my head as much as possible. In particular, there are several often heard phrases that I tell myself over and over, with hopes of eventually never having to hear them again.

From my dressage trainer, these generally include:

Don’t show him what not to do, instead show him what to do!

Get him reaching from the base of his neck!

Engage your core / Think about landing in the same place in the saddle every time

And from my eventing trainer, it’s often:

Shoulders away from the fence!

No leaning over the fence (with my hips/shoulders/head/secret hopes and wishes)

Keep him straight!

and very very often…

What was that?!

or…

What happened there?!

and even more commonly…

Why don’t you just try that again.

What are the mantras your trainer uses with you? What phrases live in your head when you aren’t in a training session? And what are the words that you are basically ready to tattoo on your arm so you don’t forget?

Keeping an Eye on the Eye

Luckily, Jack’s eyeball is starting to improve, thanks to my wonderful barn family stepping in to medicate him 4x/day while I was away. But as you can see in the picture below, there’s still noticeable swelling and weepiness.Jack’s been a pretty good sport overall about getting his meds. Which is great, because all of the people doing the medicating are shorties like myself, and fighting with a 17h giraffe is not the greatest time.
We have a check up today at 2pm, and I’m hoping the vet will give us the green light to ride again, but who knows- as I wouldn’t want the dust from riding to aggravate his condition.

And with all that said, I also want to look into his respiratory issues (the heavy breathing thing mentioned last week). So right now I’m seriously thinking of scrapping our next show (mid June) in favor of a lighter schedule while we all recoup.Again, sorry on being lighter news-wise. Medications and all that are not so interesting.

Horses R Dumm

In the latest part of Jack’s ploy to keep our vets in every comfort, Jack came in yesterday with this:

Unable to open it, swollen as hell, fuckery.

The vet came out, and he’s getting a fully fledged arsenal of medications. That I then misplaced.

Horses are dumb. And apparently so am I. Because being a human this week is basically more than I can handle.So if you’re wondering about us, I’ll be off gassing up my struggle bus.

Hope everyone has a good weekend.

Summertime Blues

Apparently we went right from Spring into monsoon season here in NC. We’ve had almost 2 straight weeks of rain, and the forecast doesn’t look to improve any time soon. While this has been great for my garden, it hasn’t been so great for riding. Even the indoor starts to look less appealing after 2 weeks.

Jack, for himself, would also like a break from the weather. The Golden Boy has really been struggling with the heat, and we are all struggling with the drowning sensation that accompanies going outside.

Despite very long warm up and cool down sessions, his panting during more strenuous sessions is noticeable. Because I don’t want my horse to keel over one day, I’ve started planning a conditioning program to hopefully get his cardiovascular fitness improved to decrease recovery time. We take lots of walk breaks while he recovers. I watch to make sure he’s sweating (he is). And I’m looking into adding electrolytes to his meals. (PS- is Smartpak’s supplement site down for anyone else?)

I’m hoping that this is just an adjustment period that we are going through, since really in terms of a NC summer, we haven’t even gotten to the real heat.

So blog fam, I need your advice! What do you guys do to help your ponies adjust to rising mercury?

Let’s Discuss: Justified?

Despite my own personal mixed feelings regarding horse racing, I do inevitably get excited when the Triple Crown rolls around. Why? Because for just a few minutes every year, the rest of the nation becomes as fascinated by horses as equestrians are on the daily. No matter whether or not you ever rode a horse, the thrill of seeing American Pharoah break an almost 40 year drought and take the Triple Crown- that was something that just set the heart on fire.

But there to douse the flames are some of the horrors that inevitably come with mixing horses and money- it invites greed to look past some of the basic principles of horsemanship, and take advantage of a creature bound to do our will. And I won’t pretend that racing is the only victim to this side of human nature. Every horse discipline, every industry has seen its fair share of a turned eye, or pushing just that bit too far, and no one can claim total innocence.

And yet there, on the morning after the Derby, questions arose. Charismatic trainer Bob Baffert led the stunning Justify out to meet an adoring press, and horsepeople looked on in dismay. That horse was not sound. Not at all.

Baffert clearly says in the video that he came out of the Derby “really well”, and yet, the horse won’t comfortably put weight on his left hind. Later in a press conference, Baffert said that the horse had Scratches, a skin infection that was irritated by the gravel. Then it was circulated that the horse had a bruised foot.

In the end, Justify was cleared for the Preakness, and made himself even more valuable by winning the second leg of the Triple Crown. At my particular viewing party, we all watched him walk before and after with eagle eyes, and couldn’t come to a unified consensus on whether he looked 100% or not. And yet, he won, and surely we’ll see him again in the Belmont at the end of the summer.

For my part, I hope he does well, and I hope that all the curfuffle really is just an ill timed stone bruise, or a skin infection. Justify is one of the strongest, well boned TB’s to win the Derby since Big Brown 10 years ago. His lack of a 2 yr old season may set an excellent precedent for later-started, but successful horses that have more longevity in their careers, both on the track and in potential sporthorse disciplines.

Things I do wonder about, and I hope there are informed individuals out there who can fill us in…
What kind of vetting is required, if any, before these big races? How is transparency viewed in the racing industry? What medications are allowed to be used (NSAIDs, etc) on the track? Do you think Justify has a shot at the Belmont? Is there a horse out there that you prefer? Where do you think the racing industry should go, or practices they should adopt?

Show Recap: May WHES Novice HT

This past weekend is admittedly a bit of a blur. I finally started feeling better late Saturday evening. Our XC school that day had gone pretty well, but Jack was definitely being a bit of a spook- not unusual for him after not jumping for a couple weeks. I was struggling with the sudden ~90* temperatures, particularly after being already dehydrated from several days with a stomach flu.

But the show goes on, and we found ourselves doing a short warmup and heading into the dressage.

All in all I’m happy with our effort. A pair of volunteers that decided my entering the ring was the perfect time to move things behind the judge’s truck are to blame for the distraction down centerline (but what can you do, we’re thankful for volunteers no matter what). He tripped in the transition from trot to medium walk. And our right lead canter transition- well that’s still a work in progress. A score of 28.1 put us in 3rd out of 16 after the dressage, and Jack earned himself a snooze before getting ready for the jumping phases.

The Novice SJ course

After walking the SJ course, and visiting the XC course one more time, it was ready to showjump. And quite frankly, I don’t know what to say about SJ. I know that I panicked. I know that my brain was melting out of my ears, and my horse felt tired. I know that I jumped all the jumps in the correct order. And I know that I got 3 poles down. I couldn’t even tell you where. Totally my fault.

Basically a showjumping lollipop

After coming out of my SJ stupor, I realized I probably couldn’t/shouldn’t ride XC like that. So I gathered up the remnants of my brain, stuffed it back in my head, and went out determined to give him a great ride around a fair course with a lot of terrain questions.

And I remembered my GoPro!

The course was so fun. Jack is feeling like a confident Novice horse, and hunting the jumps. Sure, he’s not point and shoot, but he probably never will be. And yet- those ears tell the whole tale.

In the end, my bowling for rails in SJ denied us a top-2 finish… by a long shot. But he’s getting so much more relaxed in all 3 phases, and didn’t lose his marbles when friends left the stable- huge wins for a horse that was a nervous nelly at the same venue less than a year ago. And really, with all the shite that we had to deal with the last couple weeks, getting out and having a positive experience was the biggest win of all.

On the Mend and Under the Weather

Jack and I finally got to have a dressage lesson together on Tuesday, and once he loosened up he felt beautiful, washing away all my worries about the cluster that was the previous week. We are playing around with the “dial” of a gait – taking a boring, dinky trot to something with more impulsion and even pushing into lengthening territory, but keeping the focus on him staying relaxed and swinging through his back. This has been a major challenge for us, since Jack is not an incredibly relaxed horse by nature and can get tense rather quickly.

Jack this Jan

I tend to think of Jack as a micromanaging kind of ride, and when we discussed my trainer corrected me- when you’re on him it’s not about being busy as a rider, but staying mentally focused through every step, watching his frame and his mental energy through every stride. He’s simply not a “get on and coast” sort of dude. And while that can be a little challenging, it also means that he’s good for the rider, in that it requires correct riding in order to produce good results with him.

Unlike Foster, who could get away with (and sometimes needed) a little bit of uglier riding

Unlike Jack, who seems to be feeling significantly better the last couple days, I myself am feeling rather shitty. Fully body aches, shooting pain in my R hip, and feeling sick after every meal- not my personal best really. But still, there’s riding to be done, and a show to get to this weekend. But man, what I would do for a 12 hour nap right now!

High Maintenance

Well it’s official. Jack is absolutely the most high maintenance horse I’ve ever owned. And yet, as we close in on our one-year anniversary of being a team, I don’t regret choosing this big yellow dude at all.

As it turns out, whatever it is that caused the hives last week is apparently still around and still causing us problems. After being officially weaned off of Dex on May 4th, by the morning of May 6th the hives were already returning, and the golden boy looked a little long in the face.

*sigh*

We also had a bit of an accident that resulted in some very high emotions in me and some scrapes on Jack. Luckily with icing and bute that seems to be resolved. Just another thing in the list of all the fucking things that could have not happened last week. But whatever.

Days off make for good photo days

We are meant to go show this weekend, which will be our second go at Novice. Considering the clusterfuck that has been the last several days, luckily it’s just a schooling show. And we get to school the XC the day before. So if the golden boy isn’t feeling up to the whole shebang, we can school xc and just do dressage the next day. Or school, dressage and SJ. Or you know, if he’s feeling good do the whole HT.

Either way it should be a weekend to look forward to- new team mates, old friends, and our first time showing with pretty much all of the people I love. Thank goodness- something to look forward to!

Not Our Week

Guys, I hate to be cryptic. But Jack and I need some jingles. This is not our week.

We will hopefully be back to our usual reporting next week as we get ready for our second Novice. I hope everyone has a safe weekend and fun Derby plans!