Although the arrival of summer is great for the majority of pony owners, it brings with it a new pest that the winter months rarely see. Where the winter sees an increase in the need for protection from the snow and the cold and therefore the need for a winter horse rug, in the summer months you need to protect your pony from the threat of flies. Flies bring with them several threats, including:
Saliva from fly bites can cause allergic reactions in horses. Although this might be minor in your pony, there is always a risk that an allergy is worse than you first anticipated. Without a deterrent in place to act against flies, you run the risk of your horse being bitten potentially dozens of times a day. This leads to discomfort, pain, and in the case of a severe allergy, even death.
Although flies are a significant issue, they pale in comparison to parasites that can come in tandem with fly bites. Rather than just biting a pony and moving on, certain species of fly such as blowflies and screwworm flies lay their eggs directly in a pony’s bite wound. When the larvae hatch, they start to bite further into the pony as they grow and develop. In the long term, these wounds can become infected and parasites can lead to serious injuries.
By using a Shetland fly rug, you can avoid needing to use any other form of fly avoidance. Pesticides are excellent when you’re looking to remove flies from the environment around you and can keep bugs away from your crops, but do far more harm than good when kept around your animals. They can result in your ponies developing respiratory issues, and can even poison the environment around your property. Doing your due diligence and protecting the environment whilst looking after your Shetland pony is vital for keeping the land around you healthy and looking after your pony.
In addition to flies, you need to spend the summer months protecting against the sun’s harmful rays. Although your pony might love spending the summer out in the sun, it can be harmful if they get overexposed to UV rays for too long. A rug can provide an ever-important layer of protection against the unbridled power of the sun. Shetland pony fly rugs don’t only guard against flies but can protect your ponies from the sun at the most dangerous time of the year. Summer fly sheets and Shetland pony summer rugs can also assist with this.
Just one of these factors alone would make a horse rug the top of your priorities but combining each layer of protection together, getting a rug for miniature Shetlands becomes common sense rather than an active decision.
Although your priority should be in protecting your Shetland pony from the dangers that flies bring to the table, there is a range of further benefits that you can get from your fly rug. Amongst these is the ability to express yourself and bring out some of your pony’s personality with what they wear.
A splash of colour
Fly rugs for miniature Shetlands are large surfaces, that are unfortunately often left blank. Instead, you could focus on including a level of design in your fly rug. This could mean including more colour in order to show off the personality of the pony in question a little bit more, or it could translate to colour coding your ponies’ fly rugs by age to get a better idea of how old each individual pony is at a glance. Colour can be both functional and aesthetically important in design, and using it as such can help you to create a better looking and more functional stable.
Many Shetland ponies are not just around to have a good time with their owners, and instead have a job to do. Whether you have a competition pony or one that offers rides to paying customers, you can use your rug as a further source of revenue throughout the summer months. For example, if your pony offers rides to interested customers on the beach, there is no reason why you shouldn’t see if sponsors are interested in getting their name on your fly rug. This is a practical way of both protecting your pony and building up a greater level of revenue at the same time since Shetland ponies are seen by hundreds of people in their working roles. This can also be helpful for shows and are an option for many when it comes to purchasing show rugs.
In addition to improving the look of your pony, Shetland fly rugs can have a range of additional practical uses. Rather than simply being created from a single design, different fly rugs can have different design features to help your Shetland pony to be protected in a range of situations.
For example, some Shetland fly rugs include leg straps. This means that your pony is more protected from flies than without leg straps, and the rug is more secure than it would be without the straps being in place. This may seem like a relatively minor addition, but for ponies that tend to break free from their rugs, it makes a significant difference.
A similar functional adjustment is a Shetland pony fly rug designed to cover part of a pony’s neck. On especially hot days it can be dangerous to be stood in UV rays with only a pony’s back covered, as their neck is at risk of serious overheating and sunburn. The simple modification of extending a fly rug to cover a pony’s neck is extremely easy and an inexpensive adjustment, but it makes the rug far more helpful throughout major events such as heatwaves.
Shetland fly rugs are typically made from cotton to a polyester woven mesh. These are designed to keep the rug nice and airy for a pony whilst offering thorough protection across a horse’s body. These meshes are then boded with a woven tight fabric at the edges to prevent the rug from fraying over time.
It isn’t a necessity to give your Shetland pony a fly rug based on any welfare requirements. However, if you want to make sure that your Shetland pony is in a good condition throughout the summer and remains as healthy as it can, a rug is essential to long term health and wellbeing.
Rugs that are designed with a different colour are often the same price as each other. The only modifications to Shetland pony fly rugs that you can expect to pay more for are those that require more material to make, such as ones that make use of leg strapping.