Fly Masks: Non Toxic Insect Protection

Flies and gnats can torment your horse. One way to provide relief is with fly masks.

OK, they might look a little silly but your horse won’t care. He’ll just be glad his eyes, ears and tender skin are no longer under attack from face flies, biting flies and gnats.

Many riders reach for the fly repellent to keep these enemies at bay, but fly repellents wear off, can be toxic and can’t be applied too close to the eyes. The answer? The fly mask.

If properly fitted and maintained, these products will:

• Protect your horse’s eyes, ears and skin from biting bugs
• Allow him to see
• Protect his eyes and skin from the sun’s UV rays
• Be comfortable and allow him to graze

For the best fit, you’ll need several measurements:

1. Measure between the ears to mid face.
2. Measure between the side of the ears to mid face.
3. Measure around mid fact to mid jowl.
4. Measure around the neck, 2″ behind the ears to mid jowl.
5. Measure side to side across the brow, 2″ below the ears.

Armed with these measurements, you should be able to get a great fit. If you can afford it, buy two fly masks so you always have a clean one handy.

Check these fit points to make sure your mask is effective:

Eyes: The most important fit point. If the mask fits too closely, the mesh can abrade the eyeball. Not fun. The fabric should stand away from the eye and eyelashes. After you’ve got the whole mask in place, check the eye area from all angles. Be sure the stand-off is adequate when your horse lifts and lowers his head, too.

Muzzle: The mask’s lower edge should be long enough to keep flies out. It should extend below his cheekbone. Be sure it doesn’t rest directly on the cheekbone, either. That could cause rubbing.

You should be able to slip your finger easily between the mask and your horse’s muzzle. A good mask may have elastic along the bottom to allow for jaw movement.

Throatlatch: There should be enough room here so that your horse can lift his head comfortably; no chafing or binding. Two or three finger-widths between mask and throatlatch is good.

Ears: Be sure the ear holes are aligned with your horse’s ears. A bad fit here (spaced too close or too wide) will cause rubbing.

Keep the mask clean and well maintained. Wash it every day if it needs it. A dirty mask will be dusty and irritating to the eyes and skin.

Be sure the mask is in good shape with not rips or tears.

Fly masks are available in many shapes, sizes and colors. They are a great, non-toxic weapon against flies and gnats.

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