For some horse owners, a flyveil is just that, a veil or mask to protect a horses face and eyes (and sometimes nose & ears) from flies and other annoying insects. They grab one from the local saddlery, choose the prettiest colour, or one that matches their horses rugs and other gear, chuck it on, and hope for the best. But sometimes a little more thought is necessary, to ensure the comfort of your horse or to prevent or assist various health conditions.
The following are commonly asked questions that many horse owners have when they come to purchase a flyveil or fly mask. Whilst it might seem like a perfectly simple and basic decision, that may not always be the case!
What brand do I buy?
One Stop Horse Shop uses and recommends "Flyveils By Design" fly masks. These are made in Australia, include 70% UV protection, and tend to fit and stay on better than any other brands we have tried. They are also a great price and brilliant quality.
Ofcourse there are many other types and brands available, which we will be listing our website in future to provide customers with complete choice as to which they prefer. Some horses and owners do prefer other types of flyveils and hoods etc. or other brands.
Do keep in mind that quality is important to ensure your horses comfort and safety, especially if you are leaving them on in the paddock. A flyveil is something that needs research and thought to prevent any unnecessary injuries or frustrations.
Is UV protection necessary?
We find that flyveils that provide UV protection & filtering are crucial for our horses comfort and health. A couple of years ago, my BLACK horse developed a strange swelling in the lower corner of one eye. Initially we thought it was a fly irritation, but after a couple of weeks it became obvious that something else was going on. The vet was called and he was diagnosed with an agressive cancerous tumour, threatening both the wellbeing of his eye, and his life! He was sent to an eye vet, who performed incredible surgery to remove the tumour and hopefully prevent the spread of the cancer. And luckily it worked! But ever since it has been crucial that he wear a very good flymask in summer, WITH UV PROTECTION! This is a dark skinned black horse, who simply had the tiny pink lower corners of his eyes exposed to sunlight - which developed into a dangerous tumour. So this was a valuable lesson for us, and why I insist on using flymasks with a decent level of UV protection. For those horses with pink skin, it is even more important!
Of course any flyveil is better than no flyveil in terms of providing eye and skin protection, but if you are going to the trouble and expense of buying something, it might as well be the most effective possible!
What colour should I choose?
Quite simply - BLACK!!! Many flyveils are produced using light and attractive colours, as so many of us love to make our horse 'fashionable' and match the colour of our other gear. Which is completely understandable! However have you ever tried to look through a light coloured flymask yourself? Try it - I bet you struggle, particularly if you go out into a bright paddock! Black is known to be the colour that horses can see through most effectively. We only use black masks on our horses, and highly recommend that our customers do too. Black may not be quite as attractive or interesting to us, but it can prevent your horse from running into things and getting hurt!
One Stop Horse Shop chooses only to keep black flymasks in stock, but you do have the choice of ordering other colours should you still wish to (you don't have to agree with us!).
What size should I choose?
Most flyveil sizes correspond with the size bridle that your horse normally wears. "Flyveils By Design" offer Mini, Pony, Cob, Full, Extra Large & Draft, and their sizing is pretty standard. If your horse would normally take full sized halters, bridles and flyveils, then a "Flyveils By Design" mask in full should fit just fine. If however you are unsure, we tend to advise to pick a larger size, rather than a smaller one. We find it easier to make a larger mask smaller by simply doing it up tighter on a horse, rather than being stuck with a mask that is too small and tight to be comfortable, with no room to adjust upwards!
My horse has headshaking syndrome - what do you recommend I buy to make him more comfortable?
Having a horse with headshaking ourselves, we understand just how difficult and distressing this condition can be for the horse, and its owner/s! I find my headshaker is worse on really hot sunny days, in strong wind, and in dusty areas. Therefore the "Flyveils By Design" Extended Nose masks are great, as it filters 70% of the UV light, and the nose cover provides my horse with a filter for the dust and pollen that gets blown around the paddock. I use the Extended Nose masks with the black mesh nose cover, rather than the canvas, but thats just personal preference.
If your headshaker tends to snort a lot like mine, you will need to ensure you keep the nose cover in particular really clean, by washing thoroughly in hot water once a week or once a fortnight. Otherwise the mesh can get really clogged up with gunk!
Can I attach my flyveil over a bridle whilst I ride?
This comes down to the individual horse and its preferences. My horses get driven absolutely crazy with flies when I ride, so if necessary, I do ride in a flymask. It must be black however!!! If you use a black flyveil, your horse should see fine, and be perfectly happy.
Obviously, if you are about to do a dressage test or go into a show ring, then a flyveil may not be appropriate, but certainly whilst you are schooling or out trailriding they can be a good idea, providing they dont get in the way or annoy the horse.
Also - keep in mind that some horses will appear to be bothered by flies, in order to fuss about and get out of work or as an excuse to not concentrate. So ensure this is not the case. I have a lovely mare who just adores this trick, unless you insist on her focus and give her plenty to do (then magically the flies seem to disappear and the head tossing stops!).
My horse has pink skin that keeps getting suburnt - how do I prevent this?
Choose a black flyveil, with good UV protection, and some sort of nose cover, that provides maximum coverage. Flyveils By Design offer their extended nose flyveil, with either a mesh or canvas nose cover. If your horse has a particularly pink and delicate nose, then mesh might be a bit scratchy, and you might choose a softer option.
It's also vital that you use an SPF 30+ sun screen or zinc to cover as much of the pink skin as possible, even if its also covered by the mask. We recommend Savvy Touch Mango Butter 30+ Sunshade - highly effective and it stays on all day! It also contains healing & soothing ingredients, such as Manuka Honey, to help heal existing sunburn. You can even use it on yourself!
My horse wears a flyveil but is STILL bothered by flies - what do I do now?
A good, strong insect repellant designed for horses would be a good idea to spray over legs, neck and back. There are many different varities out there, and if you buy one (particularly those containing strong chemicals) its a good idea to test it on a small patch of your horse and wait 24 hours, to ensure your horse doesn't react allergically to it.
For an effective and more natural option, Savvy Touch Faark Off is proving to be our most popular product this summer. Full of lovely smelling essential oils, this spray works amazingly well and is receiving rave reviews! Again, you can use this on yourself also.
If all else fails, it might also be worthwhile investing in a cotton summer rug or mesh flysheet for your horse, to help keep him more comfortable.
Please note: One Stop Horse Shop has not been paid to promote any specific products - we simply stock them, and are making recommendations based on over 20 years of experience as horse owners and riders (competitive & pleasure!). We provide advice, not guarentees.