How to protect your horse from flies
Posted on 23 May 2017 by Kim
The Summer months can be tough on your horse. Flies and midges can make his life an absolute misery. Before you leap for the fly repellent, take a look at some other ways to protect your horse from flies when he's out in his field...
If your problem is that his body is getting bitten to death, a fly rug, also known as a fly sheet, is the best option. Many owner's first port of call is fly spray but a much more successful and cost effective solution these days is a rug. There are quite a few horse fly rugs on the market that offer different degrees of protection for the horse. Here are a few points to look out for when selecting your rug.
STANDARD FLY RUG
The fine mesh material that the rug is made of, will prevent flies from biting your horse. The finer the mesh the better as this will help prevent midge bites. Fly rugs come, like most rugs, with or without neck cover. Do bear in mind that the neck on a fly rug is not like a neck cover on most other rugs as the fabric it’s made of is so fine that it doesn’t stay in place that well. This is actually ok if the horse is grazing but if it’s standing with its head up, the neck part will probably fall down and gather round the base of the neck.
If you're looking for really good, all round protection, the Shires Tempest Plus Sweet-Itch Combo is one of the best on the market as it has a large belly flap and deep tail flap too.
If you're fed up paying for rug repairs for rips and tears to your horse's rugs during the playtime in his field, take a look at the Weatherbeeta ComFiTec Ripshield Plus Combo Fly Sheet. You might feel, on the face of it, that this rug is tad expensive but not so when you know about the cross hatch design of the fabric that this rug is made of: it's designed to limit rips and tears. How good is that! It not only saves time taking the rug to be repaired, you're not left for a couple of days without a rug!
NATURAL FLY REPELLENT
Zebra print is a proven and effective insect deterrent. It's a striking and fun design that'll make your horse easily visible in the field! The HKM Zebra Fly Rug complete with neck cover, is a great price.
SHOWERPROOF FLY RUG
Often when the weather gets warmer, it get wetter initially too, ie in May and June. So for the unpredictable weather, showerproof fly rugs are now available. This is a great option to keep the horse dry when there’s the possibility of a shower. The top section of the ProTack Waterproof Fly Rug Combo is both waterproof and breathable - the perfect combination.
FITTING THE RUG
Once you have decided on the type of fly rug, you need to make sure that you buy the size so that is comfortable and safe for your horse. Fly rugs are usually sized and fitted in the same way as standard horse rugs. Feel free to contact us if you need any help or advice on sizing.
A WORD OF WARNING!
Many people find that when they remove their horse's fly rug, they get a static shock from the rug and the rug seems to stick with static to the horse's coat. To help prevent this you can try folding the rug in half and then placing it on the horse and carefully unfolding it out to secure it. This prevents you from sliding the rug over the horse's coat which causes static.
If you’ve a problem with your horses eyes or ears when he's in his field or even when riding, fly masks are the essential solution. They’re made out of a see-through mesh and protect your horse’s face and eyes. They shield any facial wounds and the eyes from flies and other insects. Many horses become easily agitated when they have flies around their eyes, and some get eye infections as a result of it. Did you know, for example, that flies can even be attracted to your horse via its eye secretions?
Fly masks are made of two different types of fabric: a soft mesh that moulds to the outline of the face or a stiffer fabric that stands proud of the eyes. Both come with or without with ears and with or without a nose piece.
If all round good cover is what you're looking for, the Weatherbeeta Fly Mask With Nose is the one. Made from hard wearing mesh, this fly mask is built to last and is consequently well worth the price tag on it.
Best in class for clearance from eyes and eyelashes are the Equilibrium range of fly masks.
If you want a cooler option than a mask, a fly fringe is a cheap and simple alternative for keeping the flies at bay. They have tassels that attached to a brow band that discourages flies from landing on the horse’s face. They’re much cooler than a mask as the air can still circulate around the face and ears.
Just like all equine products, there’s more than one type! The HKM Fly Fringe below can be attached to a bridle or a head collar without too much effort or skill.
Alternatively the Shires Quick Fit Fly Fringe doesn't need a bridle or a head collar to be used as it has an adjustable, elasticated throat strap that allows it to be slipped over the head and around the ears.
And so where does that leave fly repellents?
Well, there's definitely a place for fly repellents. Whilst they seem like a cheaper option, often they're not as they need to be replaced when they run out. At the end of the day, it's down to what works best for you and your horse, isn't it?