ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Horse Equipment - Fly Masks

Updated on March 6, 2013

What is a fly mask?

A fly mask or fly cap is put on a horse to help protect it from flies.

The standard fly mask is a mesh affair that hooks over the ears and below the jaw. It covers the horse's eyes - in fact there have been incidents where well-meaning but non-horsey individuals have asked why the horse is wearing a 'blindfold'.

Fly masks are generally used on horses that are particularly sensitive or in areas where the fly problem is particularly bad. They are generally used only in the summer.

They are available in a variety of colors and designs and generally do not require a halter or bridle to be used.

Extra Coverage

Some fly masks also cover the horse's ears. This can help prevent horses from picking up ear mites. Again, it depends on how sensitive the animal is. Fly masks that cover the upper part of the muzzle are also available, which can discourage insects from crawling up the horse's nostrils.

Another way of providing 'extra coverage' is to apply some kind of repellent to the mask itself.

Turnout or Riding?

In most cases, fly masks are put on for turnout. However, it is possible to purchase fly masks that are designed to be ridden in. In this case, they secure to the bridle and cover the area between the browband, noseband, and cheek pieces. (It is possible to use a turnout fly mask for riding, if it is not a particularly 'heavy' design).

Ear nets are more commonly seen on riding horses. The 'bonnets' sometimes seen on competition horses are a form of ear net, with a tasseled fringe often used to keep flies away from the horse's eyes. In dressage, ear nets are only allowed if the stewards consider conditions warrant them - this is because it is not allowed to put ear plugs in the horse's ears in dressage and ear nets make it harder to check for them. (Ear plugs are allowed in hunters and jumpers).

Do fly masks affect a horse's vision?

In general, no...even the ones that look completely opaque. Most fly masks are made of PVC mesh...if in doubt, hold one up to your own eyes.

More expensive masks often use a softer mesh.

Some manufacturers sell their fly masks as being 'easier to see out of' and fly masks that are designed to be ridden in often have a much thinner mesh...although this is likely more for the peace of mind of the rider than because they really are easier to see out of. Often, you can see the horse's eyes clearly through 'bridle' masks and not through turnout masks, but the horses can still see out of the mask, just as somebody can see fine through mirrored shades.

What about mules?

Can donkeys and mules wear fly masks?

Yes. However, they cannot wear fly masks designed for horses, even the ones without ears. Fly masks sized for donkeys and mules are available both with and without ear coverage. (Although the ones with ears look ridiculous, especially on smaller donkeys).

A horse sized fly mask may fit if the ear holes are on the larger size, but you're always better off getting mule/donkey sized equipment.

Can you improvise or make a fly mask?

Fly masks are relatively easy to make, especially bridle fly masks - all you need is mesh and binding.

If you are simply without enough fly masks or caught out by early insects, one good alternative is to jury rig a fly fringe. Get an old browband and add it to your horse's halter, then secure string or ribbon dangling down from it. Fly fringes may work for horses who don't like wearing a fly mask (some don't). Make sure the browband is fairly loose - a size larger than the horse normally wears is a good idea.

Do not ride in a home-made fly fringe as they have been known to poke the horse in the eye, with rather predictable and unfortunate results.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)