Fly masks and other things to help protect your horse’s head this summer

Horse Fly Mask

Hurrah, it’s summer … but where is all the sun? As the typical British summertime gets underway it’s time we reach for the rugs and fly masks for horses to protect them from flies and unwanted pets. Despite the sun not making much of an appearance, the risk and irritation still prevail.

We’ve already covered a selection of the best fly rugs for this spring/summer. However, with a host of fly masks available for our horses, it makes you wonder which one could be best and why. While we can’t particularly answer this question as each horse is different, we can suggest a few items that we believe may be suitable. We’ve also included a tried and tested review for the Absorbine Ultra Shield Masks.

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Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask
Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask

One of last year’s most prominent sellers was the Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask, available with or without ears. This ergonomically shaped mask fastens with velcro under the cheekbones to fit securely, with fleece edging to protect from rubbing. This mask offers up to 60% UV protection from the sun along with raised seems to lift the mask from the horse’s eyes.


The Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask is available in a selection of colours and sizes on Amazon from £13.98 – £19.99 (price dependent on size requirements.

You should remove the horse’s fly net at least once a day to allow your horse time without the mask on. For youngsters, it’s advisable to start by allowing the horse to graze with the net on for only a few hours each day. Gradually moving up each session time until he, or she, is ready for all-day wear.

Fly masks come in all shapes and sizes. Modern-day masks tend to fit over the ears, eyes and can extend to the nose. However, the fly traditional fly fringe is still a popular choice for owners who have a horse who doesn’t like the mesh covering.

Fly Fringes

Attaching to a headcollar, the traditional fringe offers the horse some protection from flies. As the fringe moves flies are discouraged from landing on the horse’s head. A headshake will whisk flies away and the fringe can prevent flies from landing directly onto the horse’s eye area.

Fly fringe
Cheap, and effective – a fly fringe.

Fly fringes are known for their no frills appearance, being cheap and easy to put on. IF it comes off in the field, you’ll not worry as much as it’s one of the least expensive options in terms of fly protection around the head. The fly fringe feature above velcros onto the horse’s headcollar. It comes in a selection of sizes and is available on Amazon.

Horses with extensive pink areas over the muzzle, and/or around the eyes are more prone to be sensitive to light and sunburn. Choosing how to protect these horses can be tricky, especially with a horse that reacts negatively to any kind of face fringe or mask.

Sun Cream

Products that help protect the horse’s skin from sunburn may assist greatly here. Opt for a sunblock that is for sensitive skin, or reach for those creams specifically designed for equines, or animals.

Groom Away Soothing Sun Protection and UV protection cream
Groom Away Soothing Sun Protection and UV protection cream

As shown here, the Groom Away Sun Protection Cream promises to provide high protection from the elements at the same time as being resistant to perspiration and water. The product comes in 200ml, and is available from Amazon.

Regular application will be needed with consideration to product build-up on the horse’s skin, it is therefore recommended application in the morning followed by a gentle wash off later in the day. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this during the summer months, be sure to wash the area’s where the cream is applied when you can, particularly before applying another layer.

Tried and Tested – Ultra Shield Masks

For horses who are happy to have their face covered, the Ultrasheild Fly Mask collection from Absorbine offers multiple option masks in a variety of realistic sizes; cob, warmblood, horse … with plenty of sizes in between.

Each mask incorporates different levels of protection. Our favourite was the Ultra Shield Fly Mask with Removable Nose. We trialled two masks on our young horses and were delighted to report the following:

Fly Masks for Horses: Zareen with the Ultra Shield Fly Mask with Nose Shield
Fly Masks for Horses: Zareen with the Ultra Shield Fly Mask with Nose Shield

To begin, we used the nose cover incorporated mask on a horse who hadn’t worn one previously (3-year-old cremello warmblood gelding). The detachable nose came in handy, as the horse had decided he didn’t quite like the additional amount of mesh hanging down his face. The nose of this horse is a particular concern due to being pink, historically we have used suncream to keep protect the skin from burning. Having the choice to add and remove the mask made it easier for the horse to get used to it over time, removing the need for daily application of suncream, when worn.

Our second horse, a 4-year-old mare, was happy to wear her mesh net day and night. Although this one didn’t extend over the nose, it provided more than adequate protection from sun, flies and other pests. Notably, it has also stood the test of time from the rather ‘nippy’ 3-year-old who insists on chasing her around the field to play …

Fly Masks for Horses, Havana wearing the Ultra Shield Fly Mask with ears
Fly Masks for Horses: Havana wearing the Ultra Shield Fly Mask with ears

Overall Thoughts …

UV Protection ⇒  Hard Wearing ⇒ Easy to Fit ⇒ Comfortable ⇒ Detachable Nose Option!

The masks are hard-wearing, no doubt! Both provided the horse a comfortable fit, enhanced by soft edges to prevent rubbing. There is adequate velcro to secure the hood in place. The ears are soft, fitting well, and again are sized accordingly. The horse’s face did not overheat, nor did they have any adverse reaction to the light when they were removed. An added bonus, each fly mask in the collection offers 80% UV and solar glare protection.

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