What: Fly masks are used to cover a horse’s eyes, jaw, and sometimes ears. The mask is made from a mesh that allows the horse to see and hear. Most are made from black or white mesh, but some have designs on them that do not interfere with vision. Most have fleece padding around the muzzle.
Why: The idea behind a fly mask is to protect the horse from flies, mosquitos, and other biting insects, as insect bites are a source of irritation and can also transmit diseases. A mask may also provide some protection from UV light. Additionally, the horse’s eyes will be protected from irritants while traveling. The masks can raise some concern because it appears that the horses are blindfolded, but it is important to remember that the mesh allows the horse to see.
How: When purchasing a mask, contact the manufacturer if you are unsure of sizing. You should be able to slip your finger between the mask and your horse’s muzzle. A mask can also be irritating if it fits too snugly around the eye. Make sure it clears the eye from all angles once it is on your horse. A mask will usually attach with velcro. Also, check to make sure the ear holes on the mask match up with your horse’s ears. Masks should be cleaned regularly (every day).
When: Masks are especially useful when traveling or during the buggy seasons of the year. Some remove the masks during the night.
What else: One thing to watch out for is that a horse can sometimes figure out how to remove a mask.