If you own horses, you have bugs. Routine vaccinations and sound stable keeping practices are critical to combating insect infestations. However, it is impossible to completely rid a barn or stable of insects. Aside from being an annoyance, insects can carry potentially dangerous diseases like West Nile Virus or Equine Infectious Anemia, among others. Insects also have the potential to cause leg and/or hoof concussions from repeated stomping, weight-loss from anxiety and allergic reactions from bites.
Fortunately, horse owners can choose among a wide selection of horse clothing and gear to protect their horses from bothersome bugs. Consider one or more of the options below to keep your horse comfortable this fly season.
Fly masks: Intended to keep flies out of a horse’s eyes, fly masks are made from lightweight, mesh materials. A variety of styles is available. A standard fly mask covers the horse’s eyes and face. Ear covers, flaps and full face options are additional features available on select models.
Prior to purchasing a fly mask, decide if it will be used for turnout only or during rides as well. Choose a mask that is designed for its intended use.
Fly masks range from $10 to $30 depending on features.
Ear nets/Ear bonnets: Designed for use while riding, ear nets, also known as ear bonnets, prevent insects from bothering a horse’s ears and eyes without fully covering the horse’s face. Mesh ear coverings attached to a crotched bonnet fit neatly underneath the bridle. Depending on the style of the ear net, tassels may drape down towards the horse’s eyes to further deter flies from landing.
Ear nets/earn bonnets range from $10 to $30.
Sheets and hoods: Made to create a barrier between your horse and bugs, a mesh fly sheet and hood provide full body coverage. Fly sheets and hoods are available in wide variety of colors and styles. Some are treated with repellents, others are repellent free. Depending on the product chosen, sheets and hoods may also provide UV protection too.
Sheets and hoods range from $30 to more than $150.
Sensitive horses may also be bothered by insects landing on their legs. Mesh leg wraps made from similar materials used in sheets and hoods, prevent pesky insects from swarming a horse’s legs.
Leg wraps range from $20 to $40.
Rider Gear: Similar to insect repellent wrist bands for humans, insect repelling gear is available for use in a variety of ways. Insect repellent strips can be attached to bridles, halters and saddles or wrapped around a horse’s leg or tied into the mane.