If you’ve ever seen a horse wearing a fly mask, we’re sure you’ll agree, it’s quite an odd sight.
Akin to placing a bag over their head, fly masks commonly look like a kind of huge blindfold worn by horses and to people who are unaware of their benefits, it can even seem cruel.
However, fly masks are an invaluable tool for horses, especially if they suffer from insect attacks in the summer.
So if you know a poor pony who is really struggling with the swarms, it might be time to bite the bullet and invest, as a quality horse fly mask could prove a little lifesaver…
Why Use A Horse Fly Mask?
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that horse fly masks are primarily concerned with protecting a horse’s eyes, ears and face from fly and insect bites.
But why is this such a problem for horses? After all, it’s not like we humans have to go out wearing huge mosquito net hats… so why should they?
Well, unfortunately for horses, they aren’t as lucky as us and there are plenty of species of insects and flies out there that thrive and survive specifically off their health.
The ones that are particularly bothersome for your steed in the summertime are face flies and blackflies.
Face flies unsurprisingly are the nasty little bugs that target a horse’s face, as they directly feed on the moisture at the corner of a filly’s eye. While this act isn’t directly harmful, the defecation they leave behind is and can eventually lead to infection if enough builds up.
Blackflies, on the other hand, are after blood and they’ve decided that the inside of a horse’s ear is the best place to get it. To secrete this, they have no qualms in biting down on an equine’s ear, which of course, can be quite painful.
Naturally then, the biting and amount of flies that can swarm around these areas causes a lot of irritation at a minimum, with the constant threat of the issue developing into more problematic infections and distress for your horse.
Horse fly masks help solve this issue by creating a physical barrier between the horse’s sensitive areas and incoming flies, meaning your steed can spend the summer in peace!
So although they might look strange, they’re absolutely helping a horse rid itself of irritation rather than causing it. They’re also made of a fine mesh material, so although it might appear that a horse has been blindfolded, they are actually able to see quite easily through the gaps, similar to a veil or a beekeeper suit!
As an added bonus, some horse fly masks also provide UV protection for horses who suffer from sunlight sensitivity or snow glare.
Does My Horse Need A Fly Mask?
Generally, we would advise giving your horse a fly mask if they spend long periods of time in stalls or pens during summer, as these can often be hotbeds of fly activity.
But, whether your horse actually needs a fly mask or not is completely dependent on how they seem to manage throughout the summer months.
Whereas we humans have the luxury of hands that can swat away circling flies, horses obviously aren’t able to do the same, hence why they are often so picked on. In the wild, herds of horses use their tails to swat away another member’s fly problems, but if your horse is alone in a stable, this isn’t a possibility.
Even if your horse doesn’t appear to be suffering from any infections or serious issues during a difficult heatwave period, if you’re noticing a lot of flies lingering around them, they’re likely silently suffering from some discomfort. A fly mask would help prevent this discomfort from evolving into distress or a more serious physical problem.
Keeping flys at bay is also not as easy as just buying some horse fly repellant either. While such products might help stave away bites to other sensitive areas such as the body and the legs, it’s obviously not wise to spray strong solutions near the face and eyes, which is why a mask is a better option for protecting this area.
Horse fly masks are also a good tool for riders and owners who want their horse to compete in eventing, dressage or other horse riding endeavours.
This is because even if your horse seems to be immune from infection, bites and irritation, flies are also very good at effecting another aspect of a horse’s life – their concentration and attention.
Think about it, if you’re attempting to train your horse in a certain activity which requires a lot of skill and thought on their part, it’s going to be a lot more difficult for them to follow instructions if they’ve got a load of flies buzzing in their face!
In conclusion, horse fly masks are not mandatory pieces of kit, but as long as your horse doesn’t find them uncomfortable to wear, they can offer invaluable protection.
After all, one horse mask is certainly a lot cheaper than a series of veterinary bills!