Why Do Horses Wear Fly Masks?

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Why Do Horses Wear Fly Masks

If you are reading this, you probably saw some horses in a field donning blindfold-like covering and wondering what those could have been. Well, they are certainly not blindfolds, and also not wound coverings.

So, what were those, and why do horses need and wear them? We’ll find out in this article. Here, we’ll share all you should know about fly masks for horses, what they are designed for, the types of fly masks, and also provide answers to some of the commonly asked questions about fly masks for horses.

What Is A Fly Mask?

What you saw on those horses are fly masks. They are worn on horses to protect them from flies and other insects in the area that could bite or pester them. Horse fly masks are usually semi-transparent due to the mesh material to allow horses to see and hear while on it. If you are a new horse owner or thinking about getting one, you can expect a fly mask to be on the list of essentials for the new animal.

Regardless of the mask design and color, all fly masks for horses are intended to cover the upper head. Fly masks are usually made with specialized stitch darts to protect the horse’s eyes from the mask material. Most also come designed with comfortable fleece padding to protect the muzzle and other sensitive areas, while some are designed with ear covers to equally protect the horse’s ears from insect bites and perching.

Worn right, a good fly mask will fully protect the horse from the discomfort of biting and perching insects, dust, and UV rays.

Fly masks are also intended to provide the horse some protection against diseases. Horses get cuts or small wounds now and then. And as flies and many other insects are naturally drawn to those, they can easily introduce infections and diseases into the open and unhealed areas on the horse’s face. Therefore, it is essential to protect the horse’s face with a quality fly mask any time they are healing from a cut to prevent diseases and infections.

Horse fly masks can also be great ways to use insect repellents, especially if you have a horse needing protection in a fly-plagued area. However, you want to be careful with applying a repellent on a horse mask as it can cause discomfort and pain to the horse if it gets into the wrong areas.

Types Of Fly Masks For Horses

Fly masks come in several types, colors and with different features. When shopping for a fly mask, it is essential that you pick one not only comfortable on your horse but also protects it from UV rays, allows it to see and hear, and is durable.

Partial Head Masks

The commonest type of horse fly mask, partial head mask protects the horse from insect bites, sunburn from UV rays, and dust. They usually begin above the nose and protect the horse’s ears as well. These types are also commonly recommended to owners introducing fly masks to their horses.

Full Head Masks

While not as common as the partial or half masks, these masks protect the horse better than any other type. Unlike the partial fly masks, full head masks cover the horse’s face from nose to ears. The masks are also usually recommended for use in flies/insects-plagued areas.

Partial Head Fly Masks Without Ear Covering

Although not as popular as the two above, this mask type still offers some protection against flies and other insects. It is usually recommended for horses that may not be comfortable with their ears confined in a mask. It provides the protection needed and is also comfortable on the wearer.

Commonly Asked Questions About Fly Masks For Horses

Answered here are some of the commonly asked questions about fly masks for horses and proper use.

Should my horse wear a fly mask at night?

No. Horses do not need their fly masks at night. For one, fly masks prevent horses from seeing as clearly as they would without it, and nighttime is probably the only time they can get it off. Also, flies and most other pesky insects are usually less active at night; hence the masks are not as important as they are during the day.

Should my horse wear a fly mask everywhere?

Just as horses do not need fly masks at night, they also do not need to wear them everywhere. Fly masks should not be used indoors and in areas with zero to minimal fly problems.

Can horses see through fly masks?

Yes, they can. However, the masks, as expected, significantly limit their vision and perception of depth. Hence, they are not required at night or when the horse is out grazing or engaged in any other task requiring total alertness.

Can I ride a horse with a fly mask?

Riding a horse with a fly mask is not recommended. Unless the flies or other insects continue plaguing the horse during the ride, you want to avoid using it. Fly masks, as said earlier, can affect the horse’s vision and perception of depth, putting you and the horse in danger. If you must use a fly mask while riding, only use one designed specifically for the purpose. These types, while not as sturdy or as effective as the regular ones, will help keep most of the flies/insects away

Horses Wear Fly Masks

Things To Remember When Getting A Fly Mask

  • Before settling for a mask type, consider experimenting with different types; partial masks or full masks, to find one your horse prefers.
  • Choose a mask made with comfortable materials and soft linings. These are safe and will usually not cause injuries even with long hours of use.
  • You want a mask that sits smoothly and comfortably against your horse’s face, so pick one that fits well and will also not allow flies to easily reach the vulnerable areas.
  • Pick only masks designed with rounded insets/darts so it is permanently raised to prevent corneal ulcer, rubs, or any discomfort from frequent rubs.
  • Carefully check the fly mask every day for torn or worn-out areas. Also, check for broken/loose or stray fibers from the mesh that could cause problems later.
  • Keep mask free of dirt. Accumulated dirt can get into the horse’s eyes and cause infections. Get multiple masks and wash the dirty ones as soon as it is possible.
  • While masks will generally keep off flies and other insects, fly repellents may be needed under the mask for added protection with serious fly plagues.

Why Do Horses Wear Fly Masks? Conclusion

Fly masks are a must for horses, especially if in fly-plagued areas. They serve a lot of purposes when used correctly. And as horses can only do so much to keep the flies away by themselves, they are possessions every horse owner should consider getting for each horse.

The masks are easy to use, comfortable for the animal, and help prevent many potentially severe infections and diseases from fly infestation. The best part? They are also affordable and usually designed with your horse’s comfort in mind.

That said, if you are a horse owner or just curious about why horses wear fly masks, we hope you find this article useful and are able to apply some of the information shared here. You can share your thoughts/contributions or questions in the comment section below.