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Dealing with bee stings while riding?

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  • Dealing with bee stings while riding?

    So last week my younger mare got stung by a mean bee while I was (dismounted) standing outside the barn. She was so upset - whirling her tail and walking sideways, but she couldn't reach it because it was on the side of her belly. I got around the side of her and smashed it with my hand. We found the nearby nest and killed the bees later.

    Then yesterday I turned out my older mare and just as she was walking off a hornet lazily bumped her shoulder. She snapped at it like a fly and it stung her on the nose! She was waving her head in the air with her nose curled up, and rubbing her nose on her leg. The bee didn't cause any more trouble - it must have just blundered into her by accident.

    But it made me wonder, what is a good strategy for dealing with a bee sting while mounted? Any stories or tips?

  • #2
    Good question. I have been thinking about this all summer, since my husband ran over a ground hornet nest while bush hogging and was stung @ 10 times. He nearly ran the tractor off the mountain!!

    I had a friend, growing up, who's horse was stung multiple times. Horse took off bucking and rider fell, getting caught in the stirrup. She died when the horse kicked her while running. Scary thing. I use safety stirrups now...

    but still haven't sorted out how to avoid the bee stings to begin with.
    If you always do what you've always done- you'll always get what you've always gotten.
    Madison Ridge Farm

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    • #3
      On the trails we have to watch for yellow jackets. Year before last I was riding with some friends when all of a sudden my little hot boy exploded under me. I didn't stand a chance. Sailed through the air and hit the ground on my back with a thud. I looked over and my boy had the stinking little bees crawling all over him and he was dancing but he didn't leave. I got stung once. I tried to get up and couldn't. My friends were hollering get up but I just couldn't. Tried to tell them to get my horse and thought I did but they said I didn't say anything. A very brave friend who is allergic to bee stings waded in snatched me up, grabbed my horse and took us away. Everybody then started beating bees off my boy. Somebody had some rescue remedy and gave the horse some, then me. I'm really really thankful we were where we were as it is just normal ground there. If it had been anywhere else on this place I would have hit rocks and as hard as I hit I expect I would have been broken. This is the time of the year when the nasty little beasties get really mean here in Ga. so stay right on well beaten trails and (a secret I learned) the first horse is much less likely to be stung. (evil grin)
      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        Originally posted by pj View Post
        so stay right on well beaten trails and (a secret I learned) the first horse is much less likely to be stung. (evil grin)
        Could someone please beat this idea into my DH's head??? He can't seem to stay on a nice trodden track to save his life. Literally, because it has led to one bad fall in a hole, and several near misses. I keep pointing out a track is God's way of showing you where it's safe to ride! Even a deer track is useful - the deer walk there for a reason!

        Anyway, yes, I've had at least three acquaintance seriously hurt when their horses were stung and freaked out. My girls look likely not to freak out unduly, but still. We'll try sticking to the trails and wearing helmets and leave the rest to fate.

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        • #5
          I don't know if there's anything you can do except try to stay on top of the horse. I was once out biking and somehow pedalled through a swarm of bees. I kept getting stung and just went nuts, crying and veering into the middle of the road. If a person capable of understanding how dangerous it is to steer one's bike into the middle of a busy road could still react this way, there's no predicting what a horse might do.

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          • #6
            I was riding my hot-headed TB on a trail with novice BF (who was luckily riding the mellow Mustang). TB must have brushed a hornet's nest, as we were quickly covered. I am very allergic to bees and thin-skinned TB was not a fan either. I know him well enough to know that what he needed was to run away (fight or flight, right?) and I also trusted him enough to know that he is sure footed on a trail. I gave him his head and a squeeze, and instead of having a bucking fit, we just dashed off away from the bees. Safe situation for me and him, he regained his head, and was able to complete the rest of the ride.

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            • #7
              My poor greenie got stung last week, we were the second horse, and after one buck we just took off running. No more narrow trails for me until after cold frost.
              ********
              There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.

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              • #8
                Well I guess one good thing to not do would be to try to hold your horse still because you don't know what's up and have him dancing around on top of a nest of ground bees.

                I'd say gallop on until you are out of bee range. If you aren't going to gallop by your own choice, you will most likely end up galloping with no choice about it at all -- and maybe not much say in the speed and direction of the gallop either.
                Last edited by greysandbays; Oct. 11, 2008, 05:31 PM.

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                • #9
                  Funny you should mention this. I'm sitting here nursing a burning ear and cheek from running my garden tractor over a nest of Yellow Jackets.

                  But I know where they live! Come nightfall, it's payback time!
                  The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                  Winston Churchill

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    It's asking a lot of any creature not to run away or jump around wildly.My own policy if I encounter stirred-up bees is to run a while until they lose interest. I think regular bees will only follow you for a short distance.

                    So a "controlled bolt" might be a pretty good plan on horseback - trying to make sure there's a safe area to run, and you have a plan for stopping. Well, here's hoping it doesn't happen!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Three years ago my borrowed mount was stung by a bee and she bucked me off, breaking my tailbone and badly wrenching my knee. Don't know how to have avoided it, but it took months to recover.

                      For human bee stings I always carry Johnson and Johnson first aid cream. (Available everywhere -- I get mine at Walgreen's). Put it on immediately and not only will the sting go away, so will the swelling...if it even comes up at all. I'm pretty allergic (the sting site will swell up like a tennis ball and turn bright red ), and if I put it on immediately I will have no reaction. I was riding with friends and the first rider knocked over a hornet's nest, leaving most of the riders and horses to get multiple stings...I put this cream on everyone and they all called it a wonder cream.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        For human bee stings I always carry Johnson and Johnson first aid cream.
                        Poultice works well for horses and humans alike. I slatherd hubby up with poultice when he was stung on the tractor and he finally understood why I come in looking like a ghost when I poultice the horses
                        If you always do what you've always done- you'll always get what you've always gotten.
                        Madison Ridge Farm

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I've gotten to know my horses well enough and we've had enoug hencounters w/yellow jackets and such what that, if my horse pops his/her nose I just kinda sit loose and 'ready' and let them do whatever they feel they need to do.

                          Mostly if they spook or startle I just try to stay in the middle of them and let things sort themselves out. I don't like a bolt or anything... and if they do that I'll pull them up but I have learned to pay attention to THEM paying attention to things. If that makes sense.

                          I have a story about some yellow jackets. We went through a nest and galloped on up the trail a good ways, then stopped to take stock of things. My horse (11yo qh mare) would jerk. And then she jerked again... and again. And put her nose around to her flank. I got off and under her saddle pad was a yj stinging and stinging and stinging. Just pumping his little stinger into her flank. And all she did was jerk and try to brush it off.

                          I flicked it off for her and gave her one more BIG hug! sylvia
                          Never explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.

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                          • #14
                            Around here they put hives out in the fields at different times of year; almonds, sunflowers etc. I was riding a friends big huge dressage mare down the side of the field and didn't realize they had put the bees out. They must have been unsettled because as we passed the hives one whole freaking swarm came out and, well swarmed us. I had bees crawling all over and could barely see through the flying ones.

                            I do NOT like bugs and I'm pretty sure the mare wasn't too stoked either. She had quite a buck so I had visions of being dumped then stung to death. Both of us froze for a second, then that big old mare closed her eyes, held her breath and walked steadily through the swarm until we were far enough from the hive that they had lost interest. Neither of us got stung once. Yay for old smart mares! You better believe she got some nice treats for that one.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I once rode through a nest of ground wasps while on a trail ride with a friend. Didn't realize at first why my horse was bucking and whirling, and I jumped off because I thought he was really hurt. I jumped right into the nest. We both got stung about 40 times. The friend I was riding with jumped off her horse and did the only thing she could think of to get the wasps off - hit me with her whip! Both of our horses took off running toward home (we were only a couple of hundred of yards away). My mom saw the horses run back to the barn, jumped in her pontiac bonneville and took off through the woods. Even though I was being whipped and stung at the same time, I still got a really good laugh at my mom racing through the fields in the bonneville (she even did a dukes of hazard jump over one gully to reach us). Her transmission was basically ruined, but both the horse and I recovered after a couple of benedryl for me and bute for him. I actually rode in a lesson later that day (on a different horse).

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                little known fact: linament can sometimes repel bees!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Cant think of much to advise other than to carry a little vial of diluted ammonia or similar OTC preparation to soothe the aftermath.

                                  Was doing groundwork with Sadie back in the day when she really had no use for me and managed to lunge her right into a nest of ground wasps, she went nuts, I didnt know why, then i saw the yellowjackets on her front legs stinging the crap out of her, got a couple good stings myself, was trying to regroup at the end of the lunge line and locate the nest and while my attention was divided Sadie hauled off and mule kicked me but good, clearly thinking this was my fault, which of course it was.

                                  That day was the low point of our relationship, we had to bottom out somewhere in order to improve, so just as well it happened.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Carry Benadryl quick dissolve strips in your horn bag or pocket. Horse or human alike can benefit...Also carry a little thing of After Bite...it's just ammonia, I think, in a little roll on type container. Cheap and it helps.

                                    If you stir up yellowjackets....run for it...Once out of range, say 50 yards or so dismount and thoroughly check that you don't have them hiding in the mane/tail/saddle pad...then go on.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by eponina View Post
                                      The friend I was riding with jumped off her horse and did the only thing she could think of to get the wasps off - hit me with her whip! Both of our horses took off running toward home (we were only a couple of hundred of yards away). My mom saw the horses run back to the barn, jumped in her pontiac bonneville and took off through the woods. Even though I was being whipped and stung at the same time, I still got a really good laugh at my mom racing through the fields in the bonneville (she even did a dukes of hazard jump over one gully to reach us). Her transmission was basically ruined, but both the horse and I recovered after a couple of benedryl for me and bute for him. I actually rode in a lesson later that day (on a different horse).
                                      HAHAHAHA I can picture this! What did your Mom think when she saw your friend beating the corn out of you with the whip? That y'all had had fight and were going at it? <gasp!! I'm still laughing.>
                                      You know why cowboys don't like Appaloosas?" - Answer: Because to train a horse, you have to be smarter than it is.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I had never encountered a ground bees nest until this past weekend. A group of friends and I had gone to the mountains with horses. We had gone out on a trail ride( just walking along). All of a sudden I heard the horse behind me making alot of noise. I glanced over my shoulder to see this huge draft cross bucking up a storm(feet up over head). We were on a trail with a steep uphill embankment on the right and a dropoff to the lake on the left. The trail was about 2 horses wide. A friend of mine was just slightly behind, but next to me. All of a sudden my horse started shifting around. I thought the draft cross doing all that carrying on had scared her. So out of character for her. She wasn't really bucking more like she was kicking her feet up to hit her stomach. Then I heard people behind me yelling bees! Move on! The people in front of me didn't hear them, so I also told them to move on fast-bees! This they finally heard. So we all trotted off at a pretty good clip. The girl on the draftie had managed to stay on(young rider-daughter of one of the ladies), my mare never bucked, so I was able to stay on. My friend's horse didn't really do anything, only seemed to get stung a few times. We had been riding for quite a while, so headed back to the barn. When we got back, I checked my mare over, didn't really feel anything on her. I had some bute and Azium with me, so gave those.Glad I had the meds with me as this happened on Thursday and we were staying until Sunday. The next day I noticed a slight swelling in the area right in front of her udders. My horse got plenty of good girl pats and a few treats for taking care of her old mother.

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