Fly season has arrived and the pesky insects are driving your horse insane. If you've ever found your horse covered in welts, or even injured due to excessive stomping or racing around the pasture, you know how important finding relief for your horse is. However, finding the right fly sheet can be overwhelming as it seems everyone has a different opinion on what is best. It's worth doing your homework to research the options as finding the right fly sheet can provide your horse the freedom to stay outside longer, and even going out during cooler hours, earlier in the mornings or later in the evenings when flies are at their worst.
Here are some of the key features to compare:
Fly Sheet Fabric
One of the biggest challenges is finding the right balance between a durable and typically stiffer flysheet and a soft comfortable mesh fly sheet which is prone to tearing. You also want to look at the size of the holes in the mesh. Bigger holes allow more breathability but smaller holes prevent even the tiniest gnats from getting through.
Fly Sheet Hardware
Take a close look at the hardware on the fly sheet you are considering. A very popular fly sheet, especially in hot climates is the Saratoga Summer Turnout. It's actually a fly sheet that we love for a lot of horses. However, the buckles are all plastic so it only takes one time for someone to toss it on the ground and have your horse step on it to crush the buckle and render it useless. The Rambo Protector and the Rambo Fly Buster are our favorites for hardware - we love the double clips attaching the the ring on the front! The clips are so easy and durable.
Some fly sheets include a neck cover (fully integrated or removable) while others don’t. To avoid welts on your horse’s neck, we recommend a fly sheet with a neck cover. Some have fully belly bands where others have surcingles. The Rambo Protector, Rambo Fly Buster and the Amigo Bug Buster all have extra coverage on the sides that extend under the belly of the horse. Kensington offers an optional belly band that attaches to their fly sheet.
If a fly sheet fits properly, it shouldn’t rub. However, some manufacturers take even further precautions to prevent this. Look for lined shoulders to ensure the fly sheet slides across the shoulders with no friction when the horse is moving. Some even include a lined mane cover to protect your horse’s precious locks. Some of the softer mesh fabrics also seem to rub less, though they may not be as durable. The Surefit cut designed by Kensington is a new and improved fit for their signature textilene fly sheet. The better the fit, the less the rubbing.
Infused Insect Repellent
There was a lot of opposition when fly sheets with bug repellent infused into the fabric first came out. If your horse is really sensitive to the flies, this will provide another layer of defense to keep the buzzing away. The Rambo Fly Buster Vamoose Fly Sheet with No-Fly Zone and the Amigo Bug Rug Vamoose with No-Fly Zone are 2 great options - the Rambo is tougher and will last longer where the Amigo Bug Rug is a bit softer, more affordable but not quite as durable.
Protect your horse’s skin from sunburn and their coats from bleaching with a reflect fabric with UV protection. Kensington Protective Fly Sheets have a 73% UV rating. The Amigo Bug Rug and the Amigo Bug Buster utilizes silver colors to reflect sunlight. For the ultimate in UV protection, take a look at the Amigo Aussie Barrier, a single integrated summer sheet that goes all the way up over your horse's ears.
Temperature and Humidity
In hotter climates, it is a serious concern to ensure your horse doesn't overheat while wearing their fly sheet. We recommend the Amigo Bug Buster Fly Sheet for fantastic coverage in a hot climate. The fabric is lightweight and allows air to pass through while the silver color reflects the sun away from the horse's body.
Fly sheets range from $50 to $200 with exceptions at both ends. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is you usually get what you pay for. If price is a huge concern, we recommend going with the Kensington Protective Fly Sheet since it is so durable, it will probably last the longest. You can also add a neck cover later if you decide you need it, but aren't paying for it up front if you don't. Though there are much less expensive options, such as the Amigo Mio Fly Sheet, we just aren't as happy with the fabric and longevity of that option.
The good news is that there are lots of options out there. Take a close look, decide what's important for your horse and give it a try. If you ever want to discuss your specific needs with our customer service team, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.