Fly Rugs: 9 Things You Should Know (Read This First!)

As horse owners, your primary concern is the health and wellness of your horses.

One way to protect them from insects, such as flies and midges, as well as from harsh weather conditions is by using fly rugs.

So, what is the proper way to use fly rugs? Are they truly beneficial for your equines? Are they affordable and worthy to own?

Should Horses Wear Fly Rugs At Night?

Yes. Horses should wear fly rugs at night especially if they have a sweet itch, their stables are near places with lots of insects, or during the seasons of flies and midges.

Fly rugs are surely helpful to protect your horses against any kind of insects that will bite and annoy them.

With this benefit, you might be wondering if you can keep their fly rugs even at night as you want to make sure they will be relieved from any irritation caused by flies and midges.

Well, yes! You can keep the rugs even during nighttime. They will do no harm as long it is perfectly fit on your horse.

Some would prefer not to put on rugs to give their horses some relaxing time. To keep flies away, applying fly repellent will do the job in the evening.

However, there are just circumstances where horses should wear fly rugs at night to ensure their wellness.

One of these cases is when your horse has a sweet itch. With this skin disease, fly rugs are always needed to protect your horse from having an allergic reaction from the saliva of flies and midges.

Likewise, fly rugs are a must if your horses are living near the dwellings, such as rivers, of the notorious insects that love to chase them. If you cannot stop the growing infestation if it is beyond your control, the best thing that you can do is to protect your horses through fly rugs.

Lastly, these rugs should be worn during seasons of flies and midges, day and night. These insects are the most visible nuisances of your horse, especially during summer, spring, and autumn.

If you will keep the fly rug even at night, you just need to ensure it is taken off during the daytime for regular monitoring for rubs or injuries and to give your horse some break time with it.

Can Fly Rugs Get Wet?

Yes. Fly rugs can get wet as some of them are designed to be waterproof. These fly rugs can actually be used in any weather – spring, autumn, snow, and even during summer.

The weather is a significant factor when deciding what type of fly rug you should put on your horse. Yet, you can experience a perplexity regarding this as the weather is pretty unpredictable, for sure!

Not all of us have the luxury of time to always check our horses and change their fly rugs right away whenever they need to. With work and other responsibilities, some horse owners are looking for a fly rug that can make their life easier while ensuring the provision of the right care for their horses.

Fly rug manufacturers are now offering waterproof rugs as the demand for these specialized products is increasing.

The type of fly rug that can get wet is commonly the turnout rug. Turnout rug is used to protect horses during circumstances of rough weather like strong wind, rain, and snow.

During these times, your horses need a waterproof fly rug to keep them warm and dry. You need a flexible rug that can accommodate these climates to make sure your horse will be comfortable and not in any way, get sick.

To make sure the fly rug you are eyeing to buy can get wet, you should find the description on it saying that it is waterproof.

Waterproof fly rugs have a waterproof top panel and mesh sides. This design can shield your horse during spring and autumn where drizzles can unexpectedly happen.

These features of waterproof fly rugs are suitable in summer as well. Your horse will be protected from summer drizzles while not feeling scorching once the sun gleams again.

However, it is important to note that despite these waterproof rugs being breathable, they may not always be suitable to be used during extremely hot days. There are types of fly rugs that are best for the long summer weather.

Is It Okay To Put A Fly Sheet On A Wet Horse?

No. It is not okay to put a fly sheet on a wet horse as it will restrict the horse’s capability to dry itself.

Fly sheet, which is another term for the fly rug, should be accurately put on your horse to achieve its maximum benefit.

One use of this is to keep your horse dry and warm. Your horse should not be wet and in proper physique once you placed the fly rug.

If it suddenly rains and your horse gets wet, you will put it in a covered place and let it dry. You can assist it by using a towel but you must leave it to finish the drying on its own.

Your horse has a natural capability to dry its own coat. Putting a fly sheet on a wet horse will serve no purpose and will just restrict your horse’s body from drying faster.

This is despite some fly sheets that can be easily dried as well. It is better to let your horse be completely dry before putting anything in it to prevent any irritations as well. 

Are Fly Sheets Too Hot?

No. Fly sheets are not too hot as some of their types are designed to be lightweight and breathable. If you will use the most appropriate type based on the weather and characteristics of your horse, a fly sheet would effectively protect with no discomfort.

With the kind of protection that a fly sheet offers, you might be thinking of its downsides that you must be aware of.

Perhaps, the idea of fly sheets being too hot for your horse crossed your mind. And you are not alone as many are concerned about this likely adverse effect.

Fly sheets are not made all the same; they are tailored using various materials and designed and weighted differently based on their specific usage.

Fly sheets are not too hot if they have wider mesh and baggy straps which enable more airflow. Yet, your horse will feel uncomfortable and heated if there is not enough space between the mesh and its coat.

The best fly sheets are designed to be light-colored and provide UV protection which then reflects the rays of the sun that can damage your equine’s skin. These fly sheets are definitely suitable for both dark-colored and light-colored horses.

Fly sheets should not cause your horse to perspire or overheat. Various fly sheets are crafted using a combination of breathable and lightweight fabrics like mesh and polycotton.

When it comes to the outdoor temperature, a horse wearing a fly sheet should stay in a cool environment if the heat is over 90 degrees already. This will help your horse to tolerate both the fly sheet that it is wearing, plus the heat outside.

Can You Ride With A Fly Sheet On?

Yes. You can ride with a fly sheet on but only on those types that are specifically made for riding.

It might be a daunting chore for you to remove the fly sheet now and then, especially if you just want a quick ride with your horse.

It is also not advisable to take off the fly sheet if your horse has highly sensitive skin. Without the protection, your horse is exposed to all the flying and biting insects that will irritate and pain it.

Your horse will try to get rid of the flies and midges by shaking its head, kicking, tail swishing, or even biting. These actions will not only make the horse bothered, rather the rider as well, which will only make the ride stressful.

If your horse needs the protection of a fly sheet at all times, then you should look for something that is designed particularly for riding.

Some of these functional fly sheets are the Cashel Quiet Ride Bug Armor Fly Sheet and the Snuggy Hoods Bug Body Fly Rug.

 Are Fly Rugs Okay In The Rain?

Yes. Fly rugs are okay in the rain as some are designed to be waterproof and easy to dry out.

Some fly rugs are so flexible that they can get wet in the rain. They will not get damaged and they will dry out smoothly once the sun shines again.

The waterproof fly rug can definitely get soaked in the rain; however, for those that are not, it is recommended not to hold them drenching under a long period.

The fly rug might be needing more time to get dry than expected which means your horse is enduring the wet sheet on its body.

Cheap Fly Rugs

Below are some of the cheap fly rugs that you can buy for your equine companion.

You can check and buy them here:

  • Kavalkade Alice Fly Rug – $ 33.99
  • Horze Orleans Fly Rug – $ 35.99
  • Kavalkade Fly’n Fleece Rug – $ 40.99
  • Horze Dorchester Fly Sheet – $ 41.99
  • Horze Orleans Fly Riding Rug – $ 54.99

What Are The Differences Between A Fly Rug And A Sweet Itch Rug?

The differences between a fly rug and a sweet itch rug are the mesh and the amount of body coverage on horses.

Don’t get confused, a sweet itch rug is a special type of flu rug specifically designed and created for horses with sensitive skin.

The first difference between a flu rug and a sweet itch rug is the mesh. Compared to a flu rug, the mesh of a sweet itch rug is made of finer fabric, making you more confident that no flies or midges can really get into your horse skin.

Another difference is the size of the covered body. A flu rug usually has wobbly fitting wrapping your horse’s body, neck, and tail. This design of a typical fly rug is not sufficient for the kind of protection that a horse with a sweet itch needs.

Instead, a sweet itch rug is intended to cover almost all parts of the horse’s body, making sure the biting insects will have no access to even a little skin. It is covering larger body parts such as the belly and parts at the back area.


Carson, D. M., & Ricketts, S. W. (2010). Sweet itch in horses. VCA Hospitals.

Jones, E. D. (2020, August 14). When is it too hot for my horse to wear a fly sheet?. The Horse.

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