Spring has arrived on the Central Coast, and we’re quickly moving toward the summer season. This change in temperature and overall weather conditions means that it’s time to start taking a look at our horse’s “Summer Wardrobe”.
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You may have already noticed flies beginning to buzz around the barn, and, if you’re like me, you’ve already mixed your second or third bottle of fly spray. This is the time of year to start taking a look at your horse’s comfort and health in terms of those flying pests, which usually begins with the fly sheet. I am a big believer in a good fly sheet for horses in most circumstances – even pasture horses (who aren’t too tough on their blankets) can stand to wear a fly sheet.
So, what should you consider when looking for a fly sheet? For me, there are 3 main points: 1. The tightness of the weave, 2. Coverage, and 3. Durability. A tighter weaved sheet will provide more protection from flying insects, as well as a bit of UV protection from the sun. When it comes to coverage, I like something with a “belly band”, because flies tend to like to congregate on the underside of our horses, and when it comes to durability, the answer is obvious…get something that will last as long as possible. Here are two great options:
The Weatherbeeta Comfit Fly Sheet is a great option; I personally own one that has made it through 2 seasons and multiple washings. There are shoulder gussets for free movement, and the shoulders are also lined to prevent rubbing. The long “freestyle” tail flap provides good coverage and still allows the horse use of his tail, and the belly band is fantastic. This blanket can be used with a “neck hood” for extra protection.
The Amigo Stock Horse Fly Sheet is also a great option. This sheet gives the added bonus of UV sun protection with its slightly reflective surface, and also provides a “free fit” to allow for movement. The belly band gives really great coverage and the tail flap is extra long. I have owned one of these sheets and it stood up well in a stall/run environment, and does have the “neck cover” option.
Leg Wraps and Fly Masks
Want to go a little further with your horse’s protection from biting insects? Get yourself a pair of leg wraps and a good fly mask. These two products are becoming much more widely used, and it seems as though half of the horses at my barn are already sporting theirs. Just remember, as with anything, leg protection and fly masks must be removed and cleaned regularly to prevent skin injury. Here are a couple of good options:
The Mackey Equine Protective Leg Wrap Fly Boots are a good and extremely durable option when it comes to protecting your horse’s legs from biting insects. They have a very rugged design, and are comfortable for the horse to wear for longer periods of time. They also come in a variety of great colors!
The Kool Coat UV Blocking Fly Mask is a relatively new product, but has received great reviews. This mask offers a unique design that is soft and flexible, adjustable, and offers the added bonus of ear protection. One of the most interesting parts about this mask is the “eye holes”, which are covered with a very fine mesh that helps with airflow and provides nearly unimpaired vision. This mask gets my vote for this year.
Here on the Central Coast, we are blessed with relatively mild weather conditions – it’s not too hot for your horse to wear a functional and breathable “day sheet” almost all year round. For those of us with show horses, whose coats have to be kept a little cleaner and more protected, a “summer sheet” is often a better option than a fly sheet. Here are a couple of good options:
The Kool Coat Classic UV Blocking Sheet is a “go-to” when it comes to a good sheet for those warmer days. The material is extremely breathable while maintaining 70% UV protection for the coat – that means no more sun bleaching! This sheet also offers a great design that fits almost every horse that I have used it on without rubbing, chaffing or excessive “damage”.
The Equi-Essentials Plaid Day Sheet has been my favorite blanket for the last few years…I’ve used it in the summer, at horse shows, and even in the “non-rainy” winter evenings when just a little bit of extra protection is needed. My sheet has made it successfully through 3 seasons now, which is really amazing! I plan to purchase another one this year.
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