In summer most horses need protection from the annoying flies and horseflies. There are a lot of accessories in specialist shops, but what do you really need for fly protection for horses?
Fly Protection for the Eyes
Flies on your horse’s eye can cause uncomfortable inflammation. Therefore, it makes sense to protect it at least during grazing time. There are numerous fly masks in different sizes, so there is sure to be something suitable for your horse. Masks with an elastic closure have proven themselves with us. They don’t rub as quickly on sensitive horses and – and I think that’s really important – flies can’t crawl under them that quickly. You have to try whether your horse has sensitive ears and needs a mask with integrated ears, the horses are really different. If you have a lot of small black flies, most of which are out at dusk, I can recommend a mask with ear protection.
You only need the now widespread fly masks with UV protection if your horse is really sensitive to UV radiation. This can be the case with some head shakers or with horses with eye infections.
For less sensitive horses in areas with little flies, simple protection with fringes is sufficient. You can wear it without a halter, then it is fastened over the ears and with a throat strap made of Velcro.
Chemical fly repellants usually do not help enough against annoying insects in the horse’s face, and I honestly don’t like to smear or spray them on the head, especially since they should not come too close to the eyes and mucous membranes.
Horses that can shelter on their pasture or in the paddock often do not need any fly rugs at all. But what if they are sensitive or live in an area with a lot of brakes? Then I would recommend a good flysheet with a belly flap and possibly also with a neck part. Simply thin cotton blankets that you can throw on for a short time do not last long in the pasture. Special willow fly rugs that are robust and sit well are better. They are made of very thin and quick-drying material – the latter is important if your horse gets a shower in the pasture with a blanket.
Really sensitive horses or eczema are best served with a special eczema blanket to protect against flies. It has elastic ends that no crawling animal can get past and really protects your horse safely. In addition, they are simply made for horses to carry them for days on the pasture and are accordingly robust. A clear advantage!
Of course, you can also treat your horse with anti-fly spray when it comes out to pasture. But experience has shown that these agents do not protect for too long and at some point, the poor four-legged friend will be stung by brakes. Personally, I only use sprays like this for riding, as they help to drive away from the insects. But as soon as a horse sweats or gets into a little shower, they are washed off and ineffective, which is why it is better to use mechanical protection in the pasture.
Fly Protection When Riding
As already described, anti-fly sprays have proven effective when riding. But since they, unfortunately, lose their effectiveness when the horse sweats, special blankets can be used for riding. They have a saddle cut and are usually cut so short on the side that you can easily get to the horse with your leg. Horses that have a particularly large mane generally do not need a riding fly rug with a neck section, but with all others, you are usually happy about the additional protection – especially where the horse sweats a lot. By the way, at times when a lot of brakes are on the move, you usually need both: a good fly spray and a ride-on flysheet.