Fly sheets for horses are protective mesh rugs designed to keep biting flies and other insects away from the horse’s sensitive skin. The mesh fabric is very breathable and allows air to circulate across the pony’s body to keep them as cool as possible in warm weather.
Compared to other types of rugs, fly sheets for horses often come up high on the neck and even right up to the top of the head near the ears. They are designed to cover as much of the horse as possible without inhibiting their movement. Some people worry that covering their horses to this extent in the height of summer could lead to overheating. However, modern fly sheets are constructed from such lightweight materials that this isn’t a problem.
Although the main reason for using a fly sheet is to prevent irritation caused by insects, there are many benefits to using these types of summer horse rugs.
Protection against insects
Insects are irritating because they tickle when they land on the horse’s body. Although all horses are different in terms of their sensitivity, many can become distracted when there are too many flies buzzing around while they are grazing. If you show your horses, you might find fly sheets helpful to keep horses calm whilst they are waiting at the ring and susceptible to exposure to insects.
Insect bites are always irritating to horses and can cause them to become resistant to bathing, grooming and saddling. However, for some horses, insect bites can be a serious problem if they cause an allergic reaction. Hypersensitivity to insect bites occurs when horses are allergic to the saliva of the insect. In addition to the usual swelling caused by the bites, allergic horses can also experience intense itchiness, hives, dermatitis and hair loss. The most common bites to cause this reaction are from gnats, mosquitoes, midges, horse flies and stable flies. If your horse appears to react badly to insect bites, it is particularly important to keep them protected with appropriate summer horse rugs such as fly sheets.
Protection against harmful UV rays
Another benefit of fly sheets for horses is that they provide UV protection in sunny weather. All horses are susceptible to uncomfortable sunburn on light and sensitive areas of their skin, but very light-skinned horses, such as those which are white, are most at risk. As with humans, persistent exposure to UV rays increases the risk of skin cancer in horses. Plus, acute sunburn can lead to painful scabbing of the skin. Many people use fly sheets as summer horse rugs when turning their ponies out in the field in order to protect them against sun exposure in areas where there isn’t much shade.
When it comes to protecting against insect bites, many people apply insect repellents to their horses and this can work well. However, many repellents break down when exposed to UV. By using a UV-protective fly sheet you can extend the activity of the insect spray to keep your horse protected for longer in addition to reducing their exposure to bugs.
Protection against dust and dirt
Fly sheets for horses can help to keep them clean both in the stable and out in the field. Although in hot weather there is less chance of horses getting muddy, the warm temperatures can lead to the ground becoming dusty and this dust can coat and stain the horse’s fur.
For horses set to be shown, fly sheets are a fantastic way to keep them looking clean and presentable before an event either with or without their show rug. The more of the horse is covered, the less washing there is to do before they are shown. Plus, by keeping insect bites at bay you can reduce the risk of unsightly bites, swellings, hair loss, or dry patches on the horse’s skin.
A horse sweat rug is designed to be put on after exercise. Sweat rugs trap a layer of air between the rug and the horse to create insulation that will stop the horse from cooling down too quickly and sweating profusely. There are several different types available, with some made of absorbent material which helps to wick away sweat in addition to supporting slow cooldown. Others are made of mesh, much like fly sheets, and aren’t very absorbent but instead help to regulate airflow to maintain a comfortable temperature. These may be used as a replacement to lightweight turnout rugs.
You could use a fly sheet as a horse sweat rug in hot weather. Although a fly sheet won’t necessarily wick away moisture, the lightweight mesh will help air to circulate over the horse’s skin to allow sweat to evaporate and to help them cool down slowly.
In theory, any horse rug works to keep insects away from a horse’s skin. However, fleece horse sweat rugs are usually far too hot to use in the summer months. You can’t necessarily use any type of sweat rug or turnout rug in place of a fly sheet during warm temperatures. It is vital that the rug is very lightweight and totally breathable.
Summer horse rugs such as fly sheets should provide full coverage of the belly, as this is an area that flies are often drawn to. Make sure the sheet wraps right underneath the horse and comes up high on the neck.
Some fly sheets for horses feature removable neck covers and hoods which come right up to the top of the head. You might even find fly sheets that cover the horse’s ears and eyes, in which case this portion of the garment is made from a very thin see-through mesh so that the pony’s vision isn’t inhibited.
You can also find fly sheets for horses that have detachable waterproof layers. These are helpful for showery summer days where you want to keep your horse dry, cool and free from irritating insect bites.
Be sure to check out our full range of summer horse sheets to grab rugs with all the right features needed to keep your pony as comfortable as possible in the height of summer.
Since insects are more likely to be an issue in hot weather, fly sheets are designed to be cool, lightweight and breathable to stop the horse from getting too hot during the summer months.
Both sweat rugs and fly sheets are popular summer horse rugs. A horse sweat rug is designed to wick away moisture and help a horse slowly cool down after exercise. Fly sheets are not usually absorbent. They’re lightweight and breathable rugs that primarily protect the horse from insect bites.
Fly sheets can be left on a horse overnight to protect them from mosquito bites. You may consider using these or using a lightweight stable rug.