How to use fly masks to keep your horse’s face safe
Nature’s fly-repellent system is your horse’s long mane, forelock, and tail. If your horse isn’t especially well-endowed, you might want to consider investing in a fly mask. In the video below, you can learn more about how to wear fly masks correctly.
Biting and blood-sucking insects around your horse’s face and head may be excruciatingly painful during the fly season. Fly masks are designed to protect your horse from bothersome insects that may spread diseases and create pain.
Choose a well-made mask, non-abrasive, and has soft linings wherever the cover comes into touch with your horse’s face.
Make sure the mask fits properly on your horse’s head and can be adjusted to lie comfortably on his face. The lower border of the cover should be at least an inch below the bottom of your horse’s cheekbone; otherwise, a gap caused by the cheekbone would allow flies to enter your horse’s jaw quickly.
In general, the better the protection, the more of your horse’s face is covered by the mask (although some horses take exception to full-face acts and are less likely to rub off a more standard-coverage model).
Pay close attention to how your horse’s mask fits over their eyes. Contact between any part of your horse’s eye (even his eyelash) and his fly mask can cause a corneal ulcer, which is a severe safety concern. Check from every aspect, with your horse’s head in various positions, elevated and lowered, to see if the mask has darts or rounded insects that allow the front half of the show to be lifted permanently for full clearance all around your horse’s eyes.
Do a daily inspection of the mask for damaged or worn areas, stray mesh fibers, stickers, or anything else that could cause an issue. If a damaged cover cannot be securely repaired, replace it. Also, look for rubs and sores on your horse’s face and head daily.
Maintain a clean environment. Dirt accumulated in the mesh can get into your horse’s eyes, and a dirty mask can cause skin problems. Having an extra cover for each horse makes it much easier to wash them.
For extra protection, put fly repellent around the face under the mask during the worst of the fly season.
Don’t forget to look after your horse’s ears. A mask with ear bonnets may be desirable if gnats or midges are a problem in your area. (Be warned, though, that some horses dislike ear covers and will work harder to remove them.) Experiment with various mask styles; your horse might prefer a soft-netting model that fits over the ears easily.)
Don’t leave the mask on for more than a few hours. Your horse doesn’t need to wear it at night, and he’ll be safer without it.
Can horses have fly masks on at night?
In most situations, horses are not required and are safer without a fly mask at night. However, certain horses with eye problems or susceptible to flies may be advised by their veterinarian to wear a fly mask at night.
While a fly mask will not impair your horse’s eyesight during the day, it will somewhat impede their vision in the dark; thus, act with caution so that they do not become injured due to their impaired vision.
If your horse needs a fly mask at night, make sure to check on them periodically and remove the cover as required to minimize friction and pain around the head. While fly masks keep bothersome insects away from your horse, they might irritate your horse. Continue reading to learn more about efficient fly masking.
When Should a Horse Wear a Fly Mask?
When it’s time to put on a fly mask, you’ll notice flies swarming your horse at an alarming rate. Most horse owners may anticipate this by placing preventative fly masks on their horses as the seasons change, and the weather becomes hotter.
Flies are more active in the summer, so have a fly mask on hand from June through July to ensure that your horse does not go too long without protection.
Fly masks are also a great idea in the summer, not only for protecting your horse from annoying insects but also for protecting your horse’s face from damaging UV rays.
Finally, horses can wear fly masks in the rain, but because the covers are semi-transparent and constructed of mesh, heavy rain might obstruct a horse’s vision, especially if your horse enjoys rolling in fresh mud.