Picking the right fly sheet for your horse
Fly sheets serve multiple purposes for horses, but mainly reduce the irritation your horse feels. They also help protect against UV rays and form a light barrier to dirt.
There are endless options for fly sheets
- Color – Light colors reflect heat away from your horse, keeping him cooler. Light colors also help to camouflage your horse from some bugs and flies, like greenheads, that are attracted to dark-moving meals.
It’s believed that zebra stripes confuse flies that are attracted by sight. And also this pattern is cute.
- Fabric – Some fly sheets are barely detectable and drape over your horse like a second skin. Obviously, these have the shortest life spans. More durable fabric options are rigid and almost float over parts of your horse, and seem to create a bubble of fly sheet protection. There are also tons of options in between. I tend to prefer the stiffer fabrics, for some reason I think of them as “air-conditioned” if the fabric doesn’t drape over them so much.
This stiff mesh is light and doesn’t drape. I can’t prove it, but it seems like more air could flow around. And, the stiffer fabric seems harder to penetrate for the really big horse flies.
- Extras – You can get the basic edition of a fly sheet or fancy extras like belly guards, neck pieces, and tail covers. I’m a big fan of belly guards to minimize the amount of time your horse spends kicking and stomping. Neckpieces might make your horse warmer (or not), but are great for super sensitive and wildly itchy horses.
Belly guards are helpful
- Special needs – If your horse suffers from sweet itch, look for brands that are specially designed with hoods, extensive belly covers, and wrap around the tops of legs to create a giant impenetrable seal. I suppose you could also use one of these styles for the non-sweet itch horse if you liked.
- When will your horse be wearing his fly gear? I have a special set of fly gear for use when riding. It’s a front neck and shoulder piece and another piece behind the saddle. It can make a huge difference when we are out riding.
We ride in fly gear – designed to be used with tack.
- Washing Instructions – I’m a fan of the simple things in life, like a quick spin in the washer and then line drying. Many of the thinner types of fly sheets meet the washer and then quickly meet their demise. Often, you can get away with a simple rinse in the wash rack and drying in the wind.
WRONG. I don’t care if that was the only size left.
- Fit – What good is it if your horse’s fly sheet doesn’t fit? Start with measuring to find the approximate size, then try them out! A fly sheet that’s too big can get easily destroyed, and a fly sheet that’s too small can cause rubs.
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This style is great for riding!