Fly season is upon us. The time of year when one must think about pulling out and/or purchasing fly prevention gear. Time to load up on overpriced and ineffective fly sprays, make sure bug spray is in your tack box, and get a good fly mask to protect your horse's precious face!
When shopping for fly masks, ear coverage is very important. Any horse that allows it should have ear coverage on their fly masks. (Believe it or not, there are some horses that just hate having ear coverage on their fly masks and will not leave them on!) Horses with no ear coverage on their fly masks tend to get lots of gnat bites in the ears, which is uncomfortable for them, and gross to have to clean out. Plus, if the gnat activity is bad enough, it can cause open wounds inside the ear, which only seems to encourage even more gnat activity. It’s a vicious cycle. Fly masks with ear coverage are really the only way to keep the ears protected.
I would hope this goes without saying, but you should NEVER spray fly spray in your horse’s ears as a way of fly/gnat prevention. If you don’t have an eared fly mask and you feel the need to put something on the ear, spray some fly spray on your hand, and rub it on and around the ear. Do not let it drip down in the ear, and be sure you don’t have so much product that it’s dripping down the face or in/around the eyes. Just enough to wipe on the ear hairs.
Of equal importance, but only for some horses, is nose coverage. Lighter colored horses are more likely to get sunburn on their noses. Dreamer is one of those unfortunate horses who gets sunburn on his poor nose. Sunscreen is an option, but since I’m not out every single day to apply it, that’s just not a reasonable option. A much more sensible option is to get a mask with a nose piece to shield from the sun. So, as I was browsing, that is what I was looking for.
Back in December of 2022, I took a trip to a tack shop in Delaware called Chicks Discount Saddlery to stock up on some goodies for me and Dreamer. That haul included some fly masks. The awesome thing about the shop is that their retail store is attached to their warehouse. I went online and printed out a list of things I wanted, showed it to the employee and she went and grabbed everything for me. I had asked for three different fly masks, but unfortunately one of them was out of stock. As she took my things up front, she said she doubled up on the one mask so I would still have three.
When I got home with the goods, I obviously had to head to the barn right away so Dreamer could try on his new gear!
He looks very handsome in this bright blue Showman fly mask. It has a soft, fine mesh, a thin fleece lining, and a detachable nose piece. The material is nice and soft, the fit is great, and the nose piece is the perfect length to give him full nose coverage. I know nothing about this brand, so we will be testing its durability this summer. I'm hoping there are no issues with the zipper coming undone, but we shall see.
I like this one enough that if it holds up the first year, I would repurchase it. Maybe in a new color if that is an option.
The price of this mask was a steal at $14.99 and comes in two colors (blue and black). Dreamer is modeling this mask in the size: “medium horse”.
This is his boring, but practical option. This Rugged Ride fly mask is a much thicker mesh that is not nearly as soft as the Showman, but will still serve its purpose. The ear coverage is soft enough and the fit is good. It is a bit annoying that there is no hole for his forelock to be pulled out, but if it matter to me that much, that could be adjusted. I doubt I will make that effort though.
My big complaint about this mask is that the nose piece is way too short. Because of that, adjustments must be made. I’ll have to add some kind of material to the bottom. Something like a bit of bit of fabric, some tassels, or additional mesh. Not sure what I’ll go with yet.
This is the mask that the employee at the tack shop doubled up on. I’m sure she did that because it was the cheaper one. Of course when I got home and saw how much I liked the Showman, I wish that was the one she would have given me two of. However, this mask will do just fine and I’ll be less sad about this one getting caked in dirt when he inevitably rolls around with it on.
The price was right on this mask at $12.50. I believe there were originally other color options, but at the time I ordered, only black was available. Dreamer is modeling the mask in the size: “small horse/cob”. As of the publication of this post, this mask appears to be out of stock. Not sure how often they restock, or if once out of stock, you’re out of luck. However, I included a link for a similar style of mask, they actually appear (from the photos) to have a longer nose piece too.
My thoughts on the store:
I highly suggest checking out Chick’s Discount Saddlery. I found the retail store a bit disappointing as far as what was on the sales floor, but it’s definitely worth the trip if you browse online ahead of time and take a list.
If you want to make a trip to the store, be sure to go online and compile a list of the item codes and descriptions of the items you want to purchase. If you find an employee, they will get the items from the warehouse for you. I don’t plan on making the three hour drive to the store again any time soon, but I will definitely be ordering some things online!
Check them out!