With October apon us and summer looming (although with the current freezing conditions and flooding in the southern parts of the country it is hard to imagine summer!) it won't be too long before the weather starts warming up (surely!) and we will start encountering plague proportions of flies and other annoying insects, once again! Flyveils are a great investment for keeping your horse or pony comfortable and protected during summer. So here is our guide to fly veils and why they are the most essential summer item for your horse!
Why your horse needs a quality fly veil or fly mask!
Flyveils and fly masks have the number one purpose of keeping flies, mosquitoes and other little annoying bugs from attacking the delicate skin on a horses face. Insects are not just annoying to horses, but can also irritate skin around the eyes and nose, leading to infections and wounds that can clearly be painful and are often difficult to clear up.
The second purpose, is protection from harsh sunlight. It is a common misconception that only light coloured horses need to be protected from the sun due to a higher risk of sunburn. However what is really important is the colour of their skin. Any area of pink skin has a higher potential to get burnt - that's a no brainer. So if you have a horse with a pink skinned nose, it obviously needs protecting (with the use of sun cream, a flyveil or both). However even dark coloured horses, with predominantly dark skin, need sun protection too. You may not automatically think about a black horse getting skin cancer, but trust us, it can certainly happen. Years ago Sarah had a little black stock horse with black skin, and no white markings. One summer he developed a slight lump in the very corner of his eye that the flies were attacking. Assuming it was just fly irritation, we didn't think too much of it, we just wacked on a flyveil to keep the flies away. However the lump continued to get worse and grew larger, to the point where we got it checked by a vet. It turned out that the poor horse had developed a cancerous tumour in the one tiny pink bit of skin he had, in the corner of his eye. Luckily it was able to be removed and treated, and he prospered for another few years, however the advice from the vet at the time, was to always use a flyveil in summer, and since then we have and recommend others do the same.
What sort of flyveil?
Different horse owners prefer different styles of fly mask, and sometimes different types and styles will suit a particular horse. However we tend to recommend going for a mesh flyveil, that velcros on firmly, with UV protection. This is why we strongly recommend Flyveils By Design, as the mesh they use, offers 70% UV protection. This helps to prevent those nasty skin and eye cancers. We have also found that they fit well, stay on securely, fit well and last several years, even with heavy use. As an added bonus - they are Australian made, by a family run business, in regional Victoria. So it's nice to support a great local business.
Many mesh flyveils may look the same, but most importantly always pay attention to any UV ratings they come with for superior protection.
Why black is best! Does colour really matter?
Oh yes indeed colour does matter! We always strongly recommend the use of black mesh flyveils, particularly when horses are out in the paddock. Yes these days there are all sorts of pretty colours and designs, and we know everyone loves to have 'matchy matchy' gear. But have you ever stared directly in to bright sunlight, and looked through a light coloured flyveil yourself? If not - go ahead and try it! Because quite simply it is impossible to see clearly, as lighter colours reflect the light back in to your eyes and reduce your vision. Look through black mesh, and you can see much more clearly with minimal glare. So effectively, if you put a light coloured mesh flyveil on your horse in the paddock, on a sunny day, you are blinding him (or her)!
Toby can attest to this, when his family mistakenly put a beige flyveil on one of their ponies as it was all they could buy in a hurry at the local saddlery. Later that day they wondered what was wrong with the poor thing, when she was bumping in to things and was looking disorientated. They eventually figured out it was the beige flyveil - she just could not see anything through it!
Lighter colours will most definitely reduce your horses ability to see clearly. This is why we only supply our Flyveils By Design masks in black as standard order. We can of course order them in, in other colours on request, and will do so if you prefer. However black is our preference and recommendation.
Basic flyveil, nose cover or ear covers?
Whether you choose just a standard basic flyveil which simply offers eye protection, or you choose one with an extended nose flap or ear covers, depends on your particular horse. Obviously, if you have a pink nose, a nose flap is a wise move. However some horses prefer not to have the flap on, and they do get dirty and require washing, so if your horse doesn't have a pink nose, it comes down to personal preference. If you have a particularly pink and sun sensitive nose, you can also go a step further, and try one of the newer 100% blockout flyveils, by Flyveils By Design. These have a mesh nose, with white canvas sewn underneath it, which offers complete UV protection, and it is also a lot softer on the nose. You can also choose a flyveil with ear covers too, for those with lighter horses, or for those sensitive steeds who just can't tolerate flies at all. These can be special ordered via us, just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you ride in a flyveil?
The simple answer, is yes you can ride in a flyveil, providing the one you use has black mesh (for clear vision), the horse is not bothered by it, and that it doesn't interfere with your bridle. But take it easy initially, and be sure to test out your horses reactions before galloping across the countryside, or flying over a jump, just in case. We have always found Flyveils By Design masks to be fine for riding in.
Always ensure your flyveil fits well and is securely fastened to reduce the chance of it getting hooked on fences or trees, from coming off when the horse rubs his head and from ending up positioned badly. Flyveils should be checked daily if possible. Many horse owners remove them at night, but it comes down to personal preference and ability, as we have found they cope quite well at night if you leave them on, so long as they are checked regularly. You may also need to clean your fly veil once a week, as eye and nose discharge, plus dust, can build up and irritate.
In the event of higher fire danger rated days, it can be a good idea to remove flyveils if possible. Many flyveils can melt on to the horse if they get trapped in a fire, which can cause serious burns and injuries. On very high fire danger days, horses are best left completely naked, with no rugs, flyveils or halters left on. It can be tricky, as on one hand you want your horse protected from sun and flies, but on the other hand, if a fire hits they are less likely to sustain injury without one. So use your best sensible judgement for each day.
So there you have it! Some important considerations when buying your next flyveil as they are definitely not all created equal. Yes, we at One Stop Horse Shop do have a strong bias towards Flyveils By Design, as we believe their product to be the best and most cost effective on the market. This post was not sponsored by them in any way either - it is based purely our own opinions and experiences.
Have we sold you? If so, we also have some of the lowest prices on Flyveils By Design masks, and we are stocked up and ready to go for the summer season. So go on, order yours today!
And as always, if you have any questions, or need help with sizing, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.