May 21, 2014

Fly Masks

This is what the well-dressed horse is wearing this summer:

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.

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  1. Your horses are so beautiful! I wish we could make a huge fly cover for our cows. I feel so bad for them!

  2. Mary, they make fly covers for horses, but I'm sure you don't want to spend that kind of money to get one for each cow! Fly sprays are only effective to a point, aren't they?

  3. My sister got tired of the cost of fly masks so she sewed her own this year. They turned out really cute.

    You have some very beautiful babies! :-)

  4. Thank you, Heidi. I haven't replaced the lost one for the same reason. I've seen patterns, but where did your sister get the mesh fabric?

  5. I don't know what is used for horses, but I am familiar with fabrics. My mother buys mesh (tulle) for dish scrubbies at Hobby Lobby. :)

  6. Tulle would provide good visibility, April, for sure. I think that's what the "quiet ride" mask is made from. I'm afraid a horse would tear it too easily out in the pasture though. I was researching this last night and read a suggestion to use shade fabric for gardens, but I'm afraid that might not provide enough visibility.

  7. Your horses are very beautiful and look like they receive exceptional care :)

    Nice post on fly masks. Seems like so many people don't know what they are and think the horse can't see out of them.

  8. Thank you very much, Laura Lee. The first time our neighbor saw our horse with a mask on, he asked if she could see or was she blind? He had two horses, so I was really surprised that he wasn't familiar with masks.

  9. I have a head shy 5 year old thanks to abuse she suffered as a weanling. Most of her issue is with the ears, and even flies are enough to set off whatever psychological thing she has going on. Once I was able to make her understand the benefit of fly masks with ears, she readily accepts it. In fact, it's the ONLY thing she'll let me put on her head without some sort of fight. My son's Arab loses her mask frequently. We sewed a piece of velcro to the top so we can attach it to the halter. Of course, usually we send them without halters, so it only works so well. :)

  10. Tina, I'm glad you were able to teach your horse that fly masks are a good thing. Poor girl, abuse is a terrible thing.

  11. Oh, I've never seen one that covers the ears. Fabulous!

  12. Thank you for visiting and commenting, Daisy.


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