“Why do horses stand nose to tail?” . . . “Why is your horse wearing a blindfold?” . . .“Is that the equivalent to horsey sunglasses?”
These questions and more are common around the barn this time of year… Yes, folks, it’s fly season! It’s time to whip out the fly masks.
If your horse is fortunate enough to have a “barn buddy” to stand “nose to tail” with, both will benefit from having the flies swiped from their eyes. However, stabled horses, or ones with non-cooperating friends, need to have fly protection provided by their owners…that means you!
Are you prepared to leave your animals with a pet sitter? Help communicate all the vital care instructions with a Horse and Pet Care Communication Checklist.
Flies are pesky creatures that can transmit diseases, bite, irritate and generally annoy our equine friends. The moist corners of horse’s eyes are a primary congregation point for “fly clumps”. Flies tend to irritate this area leaving it watery and/or crusty, leading to infections, which attracts even more biting insects. It’s a vicious cycle. So, what can we as horse owners do to protect our equine partners from harm?
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Keep your horse comfortable and its face fly-free with a a variety of fly deterrant products.
The Latest in Fly Mask Features
Fly mask design has come a long way over the years (just think back to those “fringy headbands” that some of our horses wore back in the day), and a few variables really stand out. We asked Alisha at Riding Warehouse for input on the most modern fly mask features.
Feature #1 – Fit and Keeping the Mask On
A proper fit is essential to keeping the mask on your horse. The mask should fit snug and not be too big or too small, because we all know that horses are notorious for attempting to “remove their clothing”.
“The best feature for keeping a fly mask on is double locking velcro. This design provides extra security so that if your horse is rubbing the fly mask, or something similar, the velcro is much less likely to give way,” Alisha explains. The Cashel Crusader Standard Fly Mask is actually guaranteed to stay on.
Feature #2 – Forelock Hole or Opening
“The forelock hole can be important for horses with a large forelock. It adds more security to help the mask stay in place, and it also adds another level of comfort for the horse. If the horse has a large forelock (or even a smaller one), the extra hair tucked under the mask won’t let the mask lay comfortably and flat on the head. Also, when the mask is lying flat on the head, it has a more secure fit and is more likely to stay put,” Alisha imparts. The Farnam Super Mask II Classic Fly Mask is open between the ears for the forelock to hang through.
Feature #3 – Mesh Type – Coarse or Fine?
“The bigger mesh is definitely more desirable for me, since I have a destructive horse that thinks fly protection is overrated. The bigger mesh is going to be sturdier than the fine mesh and is going to be more difficult to rip. As long as the fly mask is fitting properly, the bigger mesh is going to hold its shape and not irritate the eyes, as some people believe. The same thing goes for the bigger mesh fly masks with the long nose extension; it is not going to rub the nose because it holds its shape. The fine mesh, though, is often times going to be used for the ear coverage on fly masks so that the ears do not get rubbed from the constant contact of the mesh,” Alisha explains. The Shires Fine Mesh Fleece Fly Mask has these key features.
Feature #4 – Ear Coverage
“The need for ear coverage is on a horse by horse basis. It can be helpful for more protection from flies and other bugs, but some horses don’t like the feel of the fine mesh on their ears. My horse has an oral plaque in his ears, so he’s ears are sensitive to bugs and he loves the ears on his fly mask (as much as he can love his fly mask). Often times show horses will have the inside hair of their ears clipped, making them more sensitive, and the ear coverage can help with that, but most horses have natural inner ear protection in the form of hair in their ears,” Alisha explains. The Cashel Crusader Colored Standard with Ears is a favorite amongst most horse owners.
Feature #5 – Sun Protection
“The extra nose piece on some fly masks provides sun protection for horses that are prone to getting sun burnt, like the white and grey horses, or horses with pink skin on their noses. Most fly masks now-a-days are going to have UV protection as a feature, which is an added bonus along with the obvious fly protection,” Alisha imparts. The Cashel Crusader Long Nose with Ears actually has all 5 of the above features.
Do your horse a favor this season, especially if he or she doesn’t have a barn buddy to swat flies with, and invest in a good fly mask!
Just a note about fly masks, they should be removed when fire danger is present. Also when temperatures rise, be sure the mask is not holding the heat in on your horse’s face or choose a mask with fine mesh which is lighter weight.
Need something for everyday fly, gnat and mosquito protection beyond the sprays? A fly sheet can keep help those bugs away from the horse’s body.
Protect those horse legs where the flies like to bite. Breathable mesh fly boots for your horse’s don’t constrict the leg and enable air circulation while helping to keep the biting flies and mosquitos at bay. Try the top-rated FunRiding Fly Boots for your equine friend or Cashel Crusader leg guards.
Just so you know, clicking the above pictures and product links takes you to the product on the Riding Warehouse and Amazon websites. This makes shopping easy and convenient for you. We do get a little kick-back from items purchased, giving us resources to bring you more stories, but your price stays the same. It’s a win-win! Also for local riders, sometimes you can order items online and request pick-up – during checkout – at the Riding Warehouse store in San Luis Obispo. Happy Trails!
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