Why a zebra fly rug is one of the best ways to protect your horse from flies

why a zebra print fly rug is the best protection for your horse from flies

In 2018, Professor Tim Caro, an Honorary Research Fellow from the University of Bristol's School of Biological Sciences, caught pretty much the whole equestrian market's attention with some ground breaking research about how to reduce the number of flies landing on a horse, creating a revolution in fly rugs for horses. If you missed this or want to remind yourself of what he discovered, read on to find out more...

Researchers working on the project with him recorded videos of horse flies as they tried to bite zebras and horses at a farm in North Somerset, England. Stripes did not stop flies from a distance as they circled horses and zebras at a similar rate. However, the flies were 25% less likely to land on zebras as they were dazzled and confused by the array of black and white stripes. They found it difficult to land on them as they couldn't figure out where the Zebra began and finished.

His study, reported by the BBC, saw researchers put zebra striped fly rugs on horses to see how many insects landed on them, and compared the results with horses covered in plain, single-coloured fly rugs. The experiment showed fewer flies landed on zebra fly rugs as they just flew past them or bumped into them and bounced off! This means that a zebra-print fly rug is one of the best fly rugs for horses that you can get!

Closely related to horses, the world’s three zebra species are known for their black-and-white striped bodies. Native to Africa’s savannas, or grasslands, the design and appearance of the stripes is different from one zebra to the next. No two zebras are alike.

Four main theories exist about the reasons why zebras developed stripes:

* The first theory is to avoid attack by meat-eating animals;

* Another is so that zebras have an easier time recognising other zebras;

* A third idea is thermo-regulation, i.e. an animal’s ability to control its body temperature, even when the surrounding temperature is different;

* The fourth theory is to prevent attacks by biting flies.

Scientists believe that only the last theory stands up.

Take home message...

Get up to 25% less flies on your horse with a zebra striped fly rug or fly mask from our Zebra Collection. If you're looking for recommendations, check out our blog, Protect your horse from flies and midges with Zebra Stripes.

Shop zebra print horsewear


Kim Horton

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


  • Penny Podmore posted on March 28 2019 at 10:03 AM

    I was very sceptical about the fact that zebra stripes kept flies at bay but I was interested enough to give it a go!! So I bought a zebra print fly rug – and much to my amazement it does work. I had 2 broodmares in a field together – one dark bay and one dark bay/brown – one had a zebra print fly rug and the other had a very good make sweetitch rug. I went to bring them in one morning and the sweetitch rug was covered in flies and the zebra print rug had at least 75% less flies – I was amazed.

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