Garlic for Horses – A Natural Repellent?

Garlic for Horses And Fly Control
In my article Fly Control For Horses, A Non-Toxic Program, I discussed the importance of using methods that reduce, if not eliminate, the number of toxic chemicals used when controlling flies.

After receiving a comment from a reader inquiring about using garlic for assisting in fly control, I realized the article is not complete without talking about garlic.

I thought it would be beneficial to everyone if I answered some of her questions in this article.  I also wanted to provide a little more direction when it comes to using garlic, especially for helping to control both internal and external pests.

For more information on parasite control see Parasite Resistance In Horses And Chemical Deworming.

If you Google “horses and garlic” you’ll get a significant amount of information on the subject, so I’m going to stick to what my own personal beliefs and experiences have been when it comes to using this wonderful herb.

A General Overview Of Garlic

Garlic is the best known and most widely used herb in the horse world and for good reason.  It’s one of those substances that Mother Nature provides that can assist us in many situations.

It’s rich in natural sulfur, and can sometimes help in reducing internal parasites.  It helps to cleanse the blood and, when excreted, will help with repelling external pests, such as biting flies or ticks.

Garlic is a natural antibiotic.  It’s especially ideal for most any respiratory problem, which I personally experienced with one of my horses many years ago.  Since it is both an antibiotic and it assists in soothing a cough, it can help with mucus in the lungs and any infection that is present.

Another attribute of garlic is its ability to improve digestion by supporting the development of natural bacterial flora.  This is key to a good digestive system, which in-turn is important to a strong immune system.

If you would like to help protect yourself and your animals from infection, this is one of the best herbs to turn to.

My Personal Experiences With Garlic

Now that you have the CliffNotes version of some of garlic’s benefits, I’ll move on to sharing with you my personal experiences and thoughts about using this herb for horses.

First of all, I tend to liken garlic to apple cider vinegar.  They’re both capable of so much natural healing, but the results will vary depending on how your or your horse’s body prioritizes the issue needing help first.

Both are in the form Mother Nature intended (whole food, minimal if no processing) which is one of the reasons they both have so many benefits.  Most people might think, “Wow that must be a miracle substance,” but in actuality, when the body is given the nutrients it needs in the proper form, the results can be amazing.

I personally feed garlic to my horses and know that the quality of the herb you purchase is important.  Some processing methods will compromise the product, and then you’re wasting your money and you end up thinking it doesn’t work.

On that note, be careful where you purchase your garlic and understand, as best you can, what processing procedures that company uses.   Some processing methods, as stated, will compromise the integrity of product ingredients.  Remember it’s more cost effective for companies to use cheap ingredients and create highly processed food stuff that will have a longer shelf life.  This is usually not good for you, your pets or your horse.

I use to feed my horses a product that contained garlic, diatomaceous earth, and other wonderful ingredients, but then that company started adding soy to the product so I quit using it.  I was disappointed because it was a good product.

So, always be sure to read the ingredient labels, even if you’ve been purchasing the item for a long time.

I use straight garlic – either granules or powder form (not fresh, raw, whole garlic).  My horses like both, and it doesn’t matter which of the two forms I feed to them.  Some horses are picky and may not eat one form or the other, so it’s best to experiment.

Even quality garlic is not too expensive and it doesn’t take much when you’re feeding it.  If your horses don’t mind the taste, you may need to bump up the amount you give them during the times of the year when external pests are at their peak.  Again, it’s best to experiment with the amount.

If you do increase the amount during high infestation times, you’ll need to allow it time to build up in the horse’s system.  Since this is an herb and not a drug, and it works naturally with the body, it’s best to give it about two to four weeks to build up in the system.

Two garlic products I feel comfortable recommending are:

One More Note On External Pests

Something else worth mentioning that I’ve noticed over the years, no matter what horse facility I go to, there will be certain horses that attract more flies than others.  In my experience, this is usually an indicator of a horse who’s more compromised than the other horses around her (ie. immune system).

The level of a horse’s pest, fly or parasite attractant can correlate to how healthy they are or to their being fed an unnatural and inappropriate diet.”

Don’t over analyze this concept; it’s good to just be aware of it.

A quick example in my own small herd of three is that during the summer months, the flies will almost always gravitate over to my more compromised horse – my insulin resistant (IR) challenged horse.  All three of my horses can be standing side by side and the flies will almost always gravitate over to him.

I’m aware of it and I make sure I gauge it.  Not only that, I make sure I notice where on his body the flies gravitate to.

This article is included in a 7-part Feeding a Horse Naturally 101 series.

Keep it soulful,
Stephanie Krahl


Photo Credit – original photo modified in size and to include the Soulful Equine name and URL

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  1. Sonia Lightsey says

    Hi Stephanie,
    I love the idea of feeding garlic to my mare and seeing the flies disapear, but what about the smell; how strong of a garlic smell is there; my husband has a very sensitive nose; thanks. Sonia

    • says

      Hi Sonia,

      The smell of Garlic may be strong. It depends on the quality of the Garlic you use. The stronger it smells the higher it’s level of bug repellent potency. I would recommend taking a look at the Garlic from Springtime, Inc. It is a pretty high grade Garlic. More info can be found here:

      I’m not sure what to say about your husband. Having a sensitive nose is unfortunate. :-)

    • says

      Hi Mike,

      Raw, fresh garlic is an option and many people use it. However, although I’m a firm believer in using foods that are as raw and fresh as possible, garlic is one that, when fresh, tends to be a very aggressive herbal food that can overwhelm the nervous system if consumed daily, in excess, for more than three weeks. Garlic is not a tonic herb, therefore, it is not intended for continuous use over a long period of time. It’s best to cycle on and off of garlic.

      My favorite to consume and use for my animals are aged garlic extracts. In my opinion, it’s the best quality and safest form to consume, and you can use it almost every day without over-stimulating the body.