Fly Mask Buying Guide

Fly mask buying guide

Thinking about replacing or buying a new fly mask? Want to know what's the best fly mask for your horse? If you're like me, you've probably got a pretty good idea about what you're looking for. But have you really? Read my short buying guide on fly masks to find out what you need to look for...

Construction of Fly Masks

Designs abound for fly masks and fringes for horses. You may have thought that they just come with or without ears. Nowadays though, there's a bit more to it! Yes they still come with or without ears, but also a vast amount of other features too.

Field use or riding

The starting point is to think about what you want you fly protection for, e.g. when your horse is in the field or when you're riding.

If you just want a fly mask or fringe for your horse to wear in the field, look for one that indicates that this is its purpose. 

If you want a fly mask for, say, hacking out, look for one what clearly says it's for riding. Alternatively many of the “fly veils” are great for this. A fly veil generally has a fringe and these are available with and without ear protection. Simply put your bridle on and then put this on over the top. How good is that!

Noble Outfitters Guardsman Fly Mask No Ears

With or without ears

If the flies and midges really irritate your horse’s ears or worse still the midges bit them, go for a design with ear protection. The “ears” tend to be made from a much softer and lighter mesh material than main mask for comfort and to ensure movement of the ears is not restricted.

Roma Stretch Eye Saver with Ears

If the ears end up annoying him or making him sweat, don’t discard the mask, simply cut the ears of it out and continue to use it! Alternatively, take a look at some without ears.


With midge protection

If you wonder why your horse is still bitten in the area covered by his mask, it's probably because the pesky creatures are able to get through the holes in the mesh that the mask is made of. This is very common and it's mostly midges that are able to do this. So look for a fly mask that says it's made of fine mesh and this will stop your horse from being bitten even when he's got his mask on.

Shires Deluxe Fly Mask with Ears

With nose protection

Horses with white blazes or pink muzzles really benefit from from having their nose and muzzle covered as well as their face. The nose part can even be removed on some fly masks when it's not required. Take a look at our selection with nose protection.

Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask with Ear Holes and Nose

With padding

If you want a mask that won’t rub your horse’s face, go for one that is trimmed with a soft fleece as this is specifically included to eliminate rubbing. This is great on one hand but not so on the other as it causes the horse to sweat around its ears and around the nose area.

Having said that the added bonus of a fly mask with padding, is that the padding prevents flies from getting inside the mask. A horse with a fly inside its fly mask can be quite distressing for the horse and anyone watching it as the horse becomes tormented by the fly until it manages to get rid of it.

Check out our selection with padding.

LeMieux Comfort Shield Half Mask


If you want a mask that doesn’t rub your horse’s eyes, choose a mask that is “sculpted”, i.e. that has a band to hold the mesh away from your horse’s eyes, or one that is made of mesh firm enough to hold its shape.

Busse Professional Fly Mask

With UV protection

If you want to protect your horse’s face from sunburn, look for a fly mask that offers good UV protection

Absorbine Ultrashield Fly Mask with Removable Nose

With lycra

If you want a fly mask that fits as tight as a glove, pick one with Lycra as this sort will give the closest fit. The image below shows that the body of the mask is Lycra but fine mesh for the eyes and ears for clear vision and ear protection.

Roma Stretch Eye Saver with Ears

Stays on

If you’ve got a “Houdini”, i.e. that is a horse that manages to get his mask off all the time, pick a mask that has an extra wide Velcro closure under the chin as this will help to keep it in place even if the horse rubs it or even better go for a mask with two velcro straps.

Does colour make any difference?

Colour does make a difference in a number of cases...

If you want your horse to be as cool as possible in his mask: physics tells us that the colour black absorbs light and then converts it in to "energy", usually heat whereas white or pale colours reflect heat, so tend to be cooler to wear. This means that a black fly mask is warmer than a white or pale coloured one. Do bear in mind though that the primary purpose of a fly mask is to protect your horse from flies, keeping him cool is a secondary requirement really.    

The glare of the sun can be quite strong on a decent summer's day, even a spring day if you're lucky! A black fly mask is almost like a pair of sunglasses in that it can reduce the sun's rays. This is particularly important for horses that have sensitive eyes.

Horses with slightly poor or dubious sight, sometimes struggle to see through a white or pale mask. I guess it's a bit like us looking through a net curtain where it can be tricky to make out shapes and figures. The same applies to them.

What else do I need to think about?

Fly masks that are suitable for field use can also be used in the stable as well. This is particularly important for those stables that are facing the sun in the afternoon when the suns at its hottest or where flies are a problem on the yard, ie if you're near water.

Finally, some fly masks are made of anti-rip fabric which is vital for horses that try to destroy their mask.

You'll be delighted to hear that many of our fly masks have a combination of the features above, so you'll find you won't be restricted to just one.

Know what you're looking for? Shop our selection of fly masks and fringes and use our handy filters to find exactly what you're looking for!

Shop fly masks online



Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.


  • Andrea deane posted on May 07 2018 at 07:05 PM

    Very interesting learnt a lot thank you

  • Sharron posted on June 02 2020 at 01:06 PM

    Hi there!

    Thank you so much for the above info. I found it very helpful, interesting and uncomplicated.

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