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During the long days of summer, we put fly masks on our horses to give them added protection against horseflies and other insects. Upon seeing the masked horses, my grandson asked if we could ride them with their mask on.
Horses can be ridden wearing fly masks if it doesn’t obscure your animals vision. Before riding a horse with a fly mask, ensure it doesn’t interfere with your horses’ bit or reins and allows adequate viewing.
Most horse owners buy fly masks for their horses without thinking about riding with them. However, not all fly masks are the same, and some are inappropriate for riding.
Tips for riding your horse with a fly mask.
When riding a horse with a fly mask, you must take precautions to ensure you and your horse are safe. Here are some tips I find useful when riding with a fly mask on my horse.
1. Make sure you don’t block your horse’s sight.
A fly mask must not obscure the horse’s vision when riding. Horses are prey animals that are constantly scanning their surroundings, with hypersensitive eyes that pick up the smallest movements.
Any obstruction of their vision puts them on high alert and increases their stress level. Besides raising your horse’s stress level, it’s also dangerous to ride an animal that can’t see where it’s going.
Horses need to see obstacles and where they are stepping to avoid tripping; this is especially true when riding through the woods or over rough terrain.
Some horsefly masks are made of a material that’s difficult to see through, and others are designed with cups to protect an injured eye or provide coverage from the wind. These types of masks are not suitable for riding.
To ensure your horse can see through a fly mask, you should look through it yourself. Also, check that the cups don’t obstruct the horse’s vision with the bridle on.
2. Fly masks need to be away from the horse’s eyes.
When riding with a fly mask on your horse, it should stand away from their eyes and never touch the eye or eyelashes. Mesh that is too close to a horse’s eyes makes them uncomfortable on the trail.
It irritates horses when the mesh of a fly mask is too close to their eyes, and their eyelashes rub. Most horsefly masks are designed to stay off their eyes and provide enough room for long eyelashes when fitted correctly.
3. The fly mask should not interfere with the bit or reins.
Standard fly masks are stiff and awkward to use when riding; however, some brands make fly masks specifically for riding. Riding masks allow you to protect your animal without interfering with the bit or reins.
Most riding fly masks are designed to fit over the bridle; however, some models are made to fit under the bridle and cover the horse’s face. They do a good job keeping flies off but often fit to close to the horse’s eyes.
4. Don’t jump with a fly mask on your horse.
It is especially dangerous to jump with a fly mask on your horse. Horses have outstanding lateral vision, but because of their long muzzle, they have difficulty focusing on objects closer than six feet.
This means that every time a jockey urges his animal over a fence, the animal is jumping blind. As a horse approaches a jump, he sees it clearly, but as he closes in obstacle disappears from its view, blocked by the obstruction of the horse’s own head.
Showjumping horses have to maintain focus to successfully clear hurdles, and the slightest distraction can cause them to crash into a fence. Frequently jumpers slightly turn their heads to glimpse the jump with one eye.
There are too many things that could go wrong to risk jumping a horse with a fly mask. Even the best mask could create a distraction or impair the animal’s vision enough to cause a crash and severe injury to the rider and horse.
Our pick for the best horsefly mask to use when riding your horse.
Overall we found the Cashel EZ Quiet Ride to be the most effective. You can click here to check Amazon prices. And if you’re interested in reading what other customers have to say about the Cashel EZ Quiet Ride, click here; it rated 4.6 out of 5 stars.
Can you leave a horsefly mask on overnight?
When we recently got back from a long ride, my grandson turned his horse out and left its fly mask on. My first reaction was to chastise him, but I wasn’t sure it was wrong to leave a fly mask on a horse overnight.
Fly masks should be removed at night unless the horse has a medical condition, such as an eye infection you are protecting. Fly masks must be removed and cleaned after each use to prevent infection.
Sometimes kids and adults are tired after a long ride, but taking care of your horse is a priority, which includes removing the fly mask at night.
How long can a horse keep a fly mask on?
I recently advised my grandson that we don’t leave fly masks on our horses overnight. He completely understood but raised an interesting question, how long can we leave the horsefly mask on our horses?
A horsefly mask should be removed and washed every day; however, some models should not be worn for more than four hours. Also, some horses can’t tolerate flay masks as well as others. So the correct answer is it depends on your horse and fly masks, but it definitely has to be removed daily.
Removing the fly masks allows you to ensure it’s fitting correctly and not rubbing the horse’s skin raw. With the mask removed, give it a good scrubbing before using it again.
Why do horses wear fly masks?
A Horsefly mask protects your animal’s face against insects. That is its primary design purpose, but they are used for other things as well. Some horse fly masks are made with UV protection.
UV protection for horses exposed to sunlight with little or no skin pigments is essential. The areas around horses’ eyes and muzzle are especially susceptible to sun damage. Horsefly masks with UV protection blocks out some of the damaging rays and provide shade for sensitive eyes.
Our pick for a horsefly mask that provides the best UV protection.
The Field Relief mask is effective in blocking out 70 percent of the sun’s harmful rays. Click here to check its price on Amazon. Amazon customers rated the Field Relief mask 5 out of 5 stars.
Fly masks are also used to protect a horse’s face and ears when it has sustained an injury or recovering from sickness. Some horsefly masks cover most of a horse’s head, including its ears.
When horses are sick or have an open wound, a veterinarian may advise that the horse should wear a horsefly mask to keep the affected area clean. Horses with open wounds must keep out as much bacteria as possible to avoid infection.
The Cashel Crusader Fly Mask with Ears is made of durable material and extends to cover the horse’s nose. It also has three holes on the top, two for the ears and a hole for the forelock.
Our choice for the best horsefly mask that protects a horse during turnout.
Cashel is a trusted brand in the fly mask industry, and over 200 customers rated for an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars. You can click this link to check prices or click this link to read what customers have to say about the Cashel horsefly mask.
5 Tips to keep horseflies away:
- Groom your animals daily. Keeping them clean is an easy way to avoid horseflies;
- Keep your stall mucked out and dispose of manure and old shavings far away from your barn;
- Have good drainage; no standing water should be near your barn.
- Have stall fans for each horse in your barn; the air keeps flies off your animals.
- Keep the area around your barn neat and well-maintained, with no high grass or weeds.
Do fly boots work to keep horseflies off horses legs?
Some fly boots work, and they are worth investing money if your horse is bothered by pests on its legs. Insects on a horses’ legs can drive them crazy; some will pound their feet so hard on the ground to rid themselves of pests that they damage their legs. To learn more about horsefly boots, check out this article: Do Horse Fly Masks and Fly Boots Work? What Ones Are Best?
Will horseflies chase a person?
Yes, horseflies will chase you; they are attracted to warm moving objects, especially dark ones. And if a female horsefly catches you, it will bite. Interestingly male horseflies don’t bite; only the females do because they need protein for their eggs. You can learn more about why horseflies chase and bite in this article: Why Do Horseflies Bite, Will They Chase You? 7 Facts
I love animals! Especially horses, I’ve been around them most of my life but I am always learning more and enjoy sharing with others. I have bought, sold, and broke racehorse yearlings. I have raised some winning horses and had some that didn’t make it as racehorses, so we trained them in other disciplines.