Ella is modeling the fashionable "with ears" fly mask. Flies really bother her, and she nods her head up and down all day long trying to avoid the buzzing critters. I'm hoping that having her ears covered as well as her face will help.
Fly masks are made from a stiff mesh fabric that allows the horse to see, although it does limit their vision somewhat. It takes a little getting used to. The first day I had masks on all the horses, I noticed that one bumped her nose into things several times as she adjusted to the difference in vision. She adjusted quickly though, and was maneuvering fine the next day.
Masks should be removed overnight. A horse needs the best vision possible at night because they are prey animals, even though they are large prey animals. The mask should be inspected daily for burrs, rips and other potential problems. They should be washed off weekly or more often if needed. I lay them on the grass and squirt with the hose, using a soft brush when necessary to remove stubborn dirt and dried mud. Grass stains are pretty much there to stay though. I hang the wet masks on a fence to drip dry overnight.
Most fly masks come in several sizes: usually pony, Arab, horse, and large or draft sizes. The Arab size is for a horse with a smaller head such as, obviously, an Arabian, but this is the size Ella wears as well. She is an old-fashioned Quarter horse with a small head.
We also bought a "Quiet Ride" mask for Ella to wear when we're riding. This mask has a very fine net that allows greater visibility but still protects the horse from buzzing flies. Ella and I had a little rodeo last summer when a horse fly bit her while I was riding her. I stayed on, and I'm pretty proud of that fact; it was iffy for a bit! Of course the mask will only protect her face, but hopefully she won't be quite so edgy. The horse flies are so awful during the deep summer.
Splash learned how to get his mask off in two days. Within a week he'd lost it somewhere out in the pasture, and it's still missing. The others have adapted well, and two of them even come to me eagerly to have their mask put on. Fly masks definitely make them more comfortable during fly season.
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a