How to protect your horse from flies

How to protect your horse from flies

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...

Fly Rug

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 the best fly rug for your horse.


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. Horse 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, some rugs have a velcro strap that you can attach to your horses headcollar to stop the neck from slipping down.  

If you're looking for really good, all round protection, the Shires Tempest Plus Sweet-Itch Combo Fly Rug is one of the best fly rugs for your horse as it has a large belly flap and deep tail flap to provide the ultimate fly protection. 



Sweet itch can be a very uncomfortable condition for you horse. This can sometimes be managed with a sweet itch fly rug. They have a smaller mesh to prevent midge bites and can help your horse from having a reaction. They also often provide UV protection to protect your horse from sun burn or sun bleaching. The Busse Strong Eczema Combo Fly Rug is UV resistant, breathable and quick-drying. It is well-fitting so that your horse can wear it throughout the summer season in comfort. 




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 black-white zebra-pattern provides additional, natural protection against horse flies: studies have discovered that this pattern confuses some insects and prevents them from landing. The Busse Paddock Comfort Zebra Fly Rug gives superb protection from poll to tail, protecting your horse from summer irritants such as flies, midges, sunlight and dust.  



Often when the weather gets warmer, it get wetter initially too, ie in May and June. So for the unpredictable weather, waterproof fly rugs are now available. The Amigo Three-In-One Evolution Untreated Waterproof Fly Rug is the ultimate rug for the spring and summer. It features a waterproof and breathable 900 denier top section making it durable and keeping your horse comfortable and dry. This Amigo fly rug is perfect for the changeable weather.



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.


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.

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Fly masks

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 Shires Air Motion Fly Mask with Ears and Nose is the one. This Shires fly mask actively circulates air, reducing heat build up and promoting dryness, while protecting against bugs and flying insects from ears to muzzle.   


Best in class for clearance from eyes and eyelashes are the Rambo Fly Mask, Busse Bug Eye Lycra Fly Mask and the HKM Fly Mask with Nostril Protection.

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Fly Fringes

If you want a cooler option than a mask, a horse 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 Hy Fly Veil below can be attached to a bridle or a head collar without too much effort or skill.


Alternatively the QHP Fly Fringe Extra 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.


Shop Fly Fringes for Horses

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?

Shop Fly Repellents

Shop Fly Masks, Fringes and Nose Nets



Kim Horton

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

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