Fly masks are a must-have on every horse owner’s arsenal. Fly masks exist for the purpose of providing protection to your beloved horses against harsh UV rays and biting insects.
Without these, a lot of problems would occur and our horse will surely feel discomfort.
Some say that it’s unethical for owners to put on a fly mask on their horses, but that isn’t true at all. People just want to protect their horses from harmful things.
But then again, a lot of people have questions in regards to fly masks, in this article, you’ll get to know all about fly masks and the best type of fly masks to buy for your horse.
Does My Horse Need a Fly Mask?
Yes, horses do need fly masks because this protects them from flies that roam around in barns. Flies irritate horses and humans too, and not only that, they can easily transmit diseases. Once this happens, you and your horse’s health would be put at risk.
Here are some of the diseases that flies can transfer:
These parasites reside in the eye glands and ducts of the horse and cause irritation and secondary infection.
Insects such as face flies, houseflies, and stable flies transfer their larvae onto the moist areas of the horse’s body such as the genitalia, mouth, nostrils, the area around the eyes, and wounds.
However, the larvae aren’t capable of completing their cycle in these areas and therefore make a reaction called hypersensitivity. This will cause a chronic wound (a wound that slowly heals or doesn’t heal at all).
This is caused by the spread of bacteria from houseflies, horn flies, and stable flies. Once a horse is infected with this, it will most likely start to develop an external abscess (a collection of pus caused by bacterial infection).
Internal abscesses and infection of the limbs in horses will occur if the case of pigeon fever is severe.
This type of skin problem in horses is caused by bites from gnats and flies. It will result in hair loss, hives, severe itching, skin ulceration, abrasions, and skin thickening.
Equine infectious anemia virus
This infectious disease is transmitted by the mouthparts of biting insects such as houseflies and deer flies. It affects all animals in the Equidae family.
Once a horse becomes infected with this disease, it will start to show symptoms such as acute infection, high fever, gradual loss of weight, small hemorrhages, disorientation, and depression.
Moreover, there are some severe and sudden effects that may happen such as death.
Why Do They Cover a Horse’s Eyes?
People who own horses cover their horse’s eyes to protect them from flies. A fly mask covers a horse’s eyes, jaw, ears, and muzzle area. The function of a fly mask is able to limit other environmental irritants to the horse as well.
Why Do They Cover the Horse’s Eyes When Traveling?
Blinders are usually used to cover a horse’s eyes when traveling and not a fly mask. This is because a horse has lateral eyes and this makes them see their environment better compared to frontal eyes that humans have.
Horses easily get startled so this is why blinders are used so that they won’t get distracted and scared by the things in their surroundings. Fly masks are used in riding during the fly season. This is to protect the horses from biting insects as people ride them.
It’s important to note that if the rider wants to ride their horse that’s wearing a fly mask, the horse must still be able to see.
This is because there are different types of fly masks and some are not travel-friendly. Ensure that you’ve got a fly mask suitable for riding.
How Long Can You Leave a Fly Mask on a Horse?
You can leave a fly mask on a horse during the day and it’s best to remove it once it’s nighttime.
There have been mixed opinions when it comes to how long a fly mask can be left on a horse but it all really boils down to the owner. Some vets have claimed that a fly mask can be left on a horse 24/7 if it has an eye condition.
When it comes to the advice of several horse owners, they’ve stated that leaving a fly mask on their horse all day didn’t result in any problems.
Instead, it made things better for their horses, especially when it comes to preventing further problems that may happen when insects bite sensitive areas in a horse’s face.
The only concern when it comes to leaving the fly mask overnight is it may impair the horse’s vision.
Can Horses Wear Fly Masks at Night?
Horses can wear fly masks at night, however, some advice against it. If you want to be extra careful in keeping our horse safe from biting insects, then do keep them on overnight.
Flies are in fact active even during nighttime. Also, it’s advised to keep them overnight especially if the horse has an eye condition.
Some people advise against using fly masks at night as horses don’t actually need it and it keeps them safer during nighttime because fly masks have a tendency of impairing vision, especially when it’s dark.
Can Horses See Through Fly Masks at Night?
Horses can’t see well through a fly mask during nighttime. It’s best to keep your horses inside their stables if they have their fly masks on during the night because if they wander around in the dark while wearing fly masks, there’s a tendency that they will bump into things.
Can You Leave a Fly Mask on in the Rain?
It’s better to remove a fly mask on a horse when it’s raining. Most, if not all horses, love to roll in the mud, and having a fly mask on would only cause irritation.
Fly masks stick to a horse’s face more when it’s wet and that can truly be an uncomfortable feeling for your horse.
Dirt and mud can come in contact with your horse’s eyes and eyelashes when they’re wearing fly masks in the rain and it would be difficult to remove the dirt in their eyes.
Can You Ride a Horse with a Fly Mask on?
You can ride a horse with a fly mask on, so as long as the fly mask is suitable and made specifically for riding purposes. You would want to use a fly mask that has UV protection as well.
Usually, riders tend to travel with their horses during the days so it’s best to get a UV-protected fly mask that’s also suitable for riding at the same time.
Best Horse Fly Mask for UV Protection
The best fly mask for UV protection is the Cashel Crusader Fly Mask. This particular mask protects the ears, eyes, and long nose area. The material that makes up the fly mask itself is made out of nylon micro-mesh which blocks up to 70% of UV rays.
Another thing that makes this fly mask great is because it’s rated as the best by veterinarians and equine publications for its superb fit, design, and comfort. This product is highly affordable, durable, and long-lasting.
It’s received a lot of good reviews from horse owners as well and they highly recommend others to purchase this for the protection of their horses.
One customer left a review saying:
This mask is great. I got it for my horse with a lot of white on his nose & he gets burned every summer. This is actually the first mask ever that he hasn’t tried to get off.
Here’s a link to the Cashel Crusader Fly Mask:
Best Horse Fly Mask for Riding
The best horse fly mask for riding would be Cashel Quiet Ride. This product is suitable for trail riding as well. The materials that make up the fly mask is made out of sheer mesh and this enables the horse to see well as it travels. The fly mask is lightweight and can be worn over or under the bridle.
This is a big deal for most riders since it can get pretty annoying when a fly mask interferes with the bridle. The fit is comfortable for the horse and non-restrictive. This fly mask has also received numerous positive reviews and is quite affordable too.
One customer left a review saying:
I really like this! My horse has bad vision, so he tends to get a little nervous with the thicker, typical fly masks on. And he hates the fly masks without ears, which is understandable considering the gnats find his ears to be absolutely delicious. He seems so happy in this one, the mesh is so clear and see through that not only is he able to see very well, but now I can see his pretty eyes through the mesh! It is also very light weight, it feels like nothing compared to the regular Cashel fly mask with ears.
Here’s the link for the Cashel Quiet Ride: