The 4 Best Fly Masks for Horses

Aug 12, 2018

In the hot, summer-rainfall climate where I run my stableyard, flies are a continual pest. With the yard being on the same property as a working dairy farm, our problem is worse than most; the pesky critters absolutely thrive in these conditions. But over the years I’ve developed a near-bulletproof parasite control regime to keep almost thirty horses happy and comfortable, and today I’ll be talking about a key element of that regime: fly masks.

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CHAMPION

Cashel Crusader Fly Mask with Long Nose - All Sizes

Best Horse Fly Mask

This nose flap keeps the pink nose in the shade all day long, preventing severe sunburn. The UV material of the fly mask also shades the eyes, protecting blue-eyed horses like cremellos and some pintos or bald-faced horses.

A much-neglected health issue in horsemanship is sunburn. While most horses don’t burn at all, those with pink skin absolutely cook in the sun, just like we do. And this doesn’t only apply to cremello or pinto horses who have pink bodily skin: a large proportion of horses have facial markings, and where those markings extend over the nose, there will be a patch of vulnerable pink skin that is almost unprotected by hair in summer. These pink noses burn extremely easily.

While sunscreen should ideally be applied to these noses every day, a more comfortable fix for the problem is a UV-proof fly mask with a nose flap like this Cashel Crusader Fly Mask with Long Nose. The flap extending over the nose should be fitted so that it doesn’t cover the horse’s lips, allowing him to eat and drink normally. This nose flap keeps the pink nose in the shade all day long, preventing severe sunburn. The UV material of the fly mask also shades the eyes, protecting blue-eyed horses like cremellos and some pintos or bald-faced horses. Some horses who are easily irritated by flies on their nose may also benefit from a nose flap, but it’s still possible for flies to crawl up inside the flap.

One disadvantage of the nose flap is that even healthy horses permanently have some moisture coming from their noses. This tends to then mix with dust and dirt on the flap, caking the inside with a kind of icky snot mud. This necessitates a daily wash to keep the mask hygienic.

RUNNER-UP

Kensington Fly Mask Web Trim

This mask has no frills, but it does the job just fine. Most horses don’t need their ears and nose to be protected; this mask covers up the area that flies find the most attractive – the eyes.

The majority of the horses at my yard are tough ponies who just need something to keep the flies off their eyes. In that case, a simple web trim fly mask like Kensington Fly Mask Web Trim is all that is required. This mask has no frills, but it does the job just fine. Most horses don’t need their ears and nose to be protected; this mask covers up the area that flies find the most attractive – the eyes. Unlike many masks, the headpiece of this mask does not have ear holes. This minimizes the chance of rubs around the ears and allows the forelock to hang outside the mark, which prevents the forelock from hanging in the horse’s eyes. Many horses with long, thick forelocks can get very irritated by the hair in their eyes, and a fly mask that traps the forelock down tends to force the hair against their lashes or even in their eyes, causing it to be matted with eye snot. That’s gross for the human and uncomfortable for the horse.

The mask also has a strong velcro double locking system as a fastening, which is essential for young horses – particularly colts and young geldings. The flimsy Velcro straps on most masks are all too easy for a smart young horse to undo, and I’ve lost count of the fly masks I’ve had to go looking for in the field after two youngsters had great fun pulling it off and playing tug-of-war with it. These simple fly masks don’t offer much protection from the sun, and their web trim can be too rough for some horses, causing rubs over time. But in my experience, these cost-effective masks worked great for the majority of low-maintenance horses at my yard.

RUNNER-UP

Kensington Fly Mask with Fleece Trim

Still keeping all the design features of the web trim mask we love, it adds a soft, fleecy padding to the inside of the mask’s edges. The rubbing was gone overnight, and my delicate flowers were happy and comfortable all summer long

Many horses, especially thoroughbreds, have thin hair and highly sensitive skin in summer. For these horses, even the soft web trim of a standard mask can cause painful rubs. If you notice scuffed hair or little bald patches on the bridge of your horse’s nose, underneath his jaw, or just below his ears, his fly mask is more than likely rubbing him. Considering he wears the mask all day, every day, it’s important that it should be comfortable. Four or five of my horses needed just that little bit of extra padding, and this Kensington Fly Mask with Fleece Trim was perfect for the purpose.

Still keeping all the design features of the web trim mask we love, it adds a soft, fleecy padding to the inside of the mask’s edges. The rubbing was gone overnight, and my delicate flowers were happy and comfortable all summer long. The fleece does tend to get quite hot, so be careful to select a mask with a similarly light, fleecy trim. Sheepskin is an unsuitable material for fly masks – it’s too hot and heavy. It also generally loses its softness after a season’s wear, so be prepared to replace it every spring.

RUNNER-UP

Tough 1 Ladybug Mesh Fly Mask

Horses already look kind of ridiculous wearing what is essentially a giant face visor all day long – why not laugh at yourself and buy them this?

For a comfortable fleece-trim fly mask that adds that little bit of quirkiness to the field, look no further than the Tough 1 Ladybug Mesh Fly Mask. Horses already look kind of ridiculous wearing what is essentially a giant face visor all day long – why not laugh at yourself and buy them this? Kids particularly love finding their pony standing in the field with giant googly eyes staring at them in a variety of comical expressions. To the horse, this mask is practically identical to a standard fleece trim fly mask, but if you’d like to spoil the horse-crazy girl in your life, these can make the perfect gift to cheer them up – as well as everyone who passes by the field!

Conclusion

Different horses have different requirements in every scenario, and fly masks are no different. It might take a few attempts to find the mask that is perfect for your horse, but these products have all been proven to work well.

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