As you find that pesky insects are coming back out, you’ll realize that it’s time to offer your horse a different layer of protection. Black flies, horse flies, deer flies, mosquitoes, and gnats are attracted to the fluids and warmth naturally produced by your horse. As a result, they often torment horses out in the pasture, leading many owners and riders with the decision to purchase various forms of fly gear. While fly masks and fly sheets are commonly used to protect a horse’s face and body, fly boots also provide protection with loads of additional benefits. Read on to learn about all the features and benefits of fly boots, so you can determine how they may help your horse this season.

Fly Boots

What are Horse Fly Boots?

Fly boots for horses are lightweight, mesh boots that protect your horse’s legs from biting insects, such as flies, mosquitoes, and gnats. This layer of protection also shields your horse’s legs from harmful UV rays and blocks out burrs, dirt, or other hazards that may irritate their skin. Applying enough insect repellent on your horse’s legs can be difficult, so fly boots are a more convenient option in providing a physical barrier that keeps flies out. Horses typically wear fly boots on all four legs during turnout during the summer months, when bugs are out the most. Some horses wear fly boots year-round if they have an injury or skin condition that needs to be protected.

Features of Good Fly Boots

  1. Secure fit- fly boots should fit snugly to your horse’s legs, so they do not easily rub or slide off, but should not be too tight.

  2. Full coverage- fly boots vary in coverage from going slightly over the knee to falling under your horse’s knees or hock joints, with the bottom stopping about 1-.5 inches to the ground.

  3. Breathable- every set of fly boots should grant plenty of airflow so your horse does not overheat in the harsh sun.

  4. Durable- since most horses are turned out wearing fly boots, find a set that will withstand your horse’s play routine, including if they enjoy rolling in the dirt or itching their legs.

  5. Easy to clean- you will be much more motivated to wash your horse’s fly boots if you can easily throw them in cold water with equine-safe detergent.

  6. Comfortable- horses are likely to scratch and rip off their fly boots if they feel that the material is too tight, itchy, or impedes their movement.

Overall, a good set of fly boots should offer coverage, a secure and comfortable fit, and hold up to daily turnout.

Fly Boots

Benefits of Using Fly Boots

There are many advantages to outfitting your horse in fly boots. They not only protect your horse from irritating bugs, but they also shield your horse from the sun, prevent the loss of shoes, reduce daily stress, and keep their legs clean.

Protection from flies and other insects

Since fly boots are generally designed with a breathable mesh material, they keep flies and other pesky insects from biting your horse’s legs, decreasing the risk of skin irritation and the spread of disease. Also, this can help keep your horse from stomping to get flies off their legs, which we will talk about later.

Protection from harmful UV rays

Just like us, horses need protection from the sun to prevent cancer and skin damage. Unfortunately, it is not as easy for them to cover up. With the use of fly boots, though, our horse’s legs are blocked from the sun’s damaging rays while they are turned out for the day. If your horse has pink skin, they are more susceptible to painful sunburns, so they will not want to leave the barn without a protective set of fly boots.

Reduced stomping that causes leg stress and lost shoes

Without flies constantly landing on your horse’s legs, your horse is less prone to stomping into the ground. Consequently, your horse will experience less stress on their legs, less hoof chipping, and fewer lost shoes that would lead to potential injuries.

Reduced stress levels for horses

Biting insects can easily bother your horse, adding pain and stress to their daily life. If you send them out to the pasture in fly boots, your horse is less likely to feel tormented by flies and other pests.

Keeping legs clean before shows

If you have a show coming up, fly boots can be worn to keep your horse’s legs clean since other forms of leg protection may not be safe for turnout or be too hot and cause sweating.

Fly Boots

Choosing the Right Fly Boots for Your Horse

When looking for fly boots, consider your horse’s individual needs and preferences. Depending on your climate, certain materials are better suited for your horse’s needs, but you always want to ensure that they are comfortable and provide the protection your horses need.

Considerations for selecting fly boots

  • Durability- since horses usually need fly boots for turnout, find a set that will hold up to their daily pasture activities and not slide off throughout the day.

  • Material- fly boots are designed in a variety of mesh materials for regular insect protection. Mesh is a great option to provide a physical barrier that prevents flies from landing on your horse’s legs while remaining lightweight, durable, breathable, and flexible. Some boots include a fleece lining on the top and bottom for added comfort.

  • Shape- depending on your horse’s preference and habits, you might need to consider various styles. Some horses prefer a looser fly boot that does not sit close to their leg, while other horses need a boot that is secured more tightly to their legs, which is harder for them to rip off.

Fly Boots

Non-fitted vs. fitted fly boots

If you know your horse or their pasture mates enjoy pulling on their fly gear, fitted fly boots might be a better choice. Fitted fly boots are more leg shaped and fasten closer to your horse’s legs, making it harder for the velcro to rip off. While both fitted and non-fitted fly boots are breathable and offer bug protection, the latter can offer greater airflow since they do not sit so close to your horse’s legs. If your horse does not like the fabric to be fitted or is prone to rubs, this style may be comfortable for them.

FreeForm fly boots is a third fit that is new to the game. This fly boot is tapered like a cone, which creates shadows and darkness and comes up higher on the horse’s leg than traditional fly boots. The movement of the shadows on the horse’s legs deters flies from landing, plus the cone shape allows for airflow.

The Different Fly Boot Materials

Mosquito Mesh II Fly Boots

Schneiders® Mosquito Mesh II Fly Boots

Mosquito Mesh II fly boots are the perfect choice for horses, ponies, or drafts that need the best insect protection for their legs. The 350D extra-fine window screen mesh and rubber binding on the top and bottom of the boot protect their legs from flies, mosquitos, and even the tiniest bugs, like no-see-ums or gnats - reducing stomping. They feature a full-length reflective strap, allow for exceptional airflow during hot months, and shield your horse or pony from potential sun damage with 40% UV protection.

Schneiders Dura-Mesh II Striped Fitted Fly Boots

Schneiders® Dura-Mesh II Striped Fitted Fly Boots

This durable fly boot has been upgraded with a new blue-striped pattern and four reflective closures for safety. The heavy 1000D poly/vinyl mesh is exceptionally durable, offering 70% UV protection and maximum comfort. The soft web binding is shaped to fit the leg, protecting your horse from the top of their cannon bone to below the cornet band from stable flies and other larger biting insects. The hook and loop straps secure the fitted fly boot across the front of the leg without adding pressure on sensitive areas, and it stays up without any plastic stays, making this mesh fly boot the perfect choice for horses that like to play hard in the pasture.

Schneiders Dura-Mesh II Striped Non-Fitted Fly Boots

Schneiders® Dura-Mesh II Striped Non-Fitted Fly Boots

Now, with new and improved comfortable elastic, these non-fitted fly boots come in a set of 4 and are affordable and durable. The heavy 1000D poly/vinyl mesh offers your horse maximum comfort and protection from bugs with 70% UV protection - perfect for the horse that likes to play out in the pasture. These boots protect your horse from the bottom of the knee to the coronet band from stable flies and larger biting flies. The fleece around the top and bottom of the boot adds additional comfort while reducing the chances of flies getting inside the non-fitted fly boot.

Schneiders Dura-Mesh BugGuard Fly Boots

Schneiders® Dura-Mesh BugGuard Fly Boots

These innovative fly boots were designed with improved sizing for better fit, providing your horse maximum comfort and protection from biting bugs. They are tapered like a cone, adding shadowing and darkness to the horse's leg and creating movement as they move, which deters flies from landing on them. The 1000D poly/vinyl mesh material protects your horse from flies, offering 70% UV protection while your horse is out in the pasture, with a full-length reflective strip for safety. These boots are flexible yet sturdy, with a hook and loop closure, keeping the boot upright on your horse's leg.

Schneiders Dura-Mesh II Non-Fitted Zebra Fly Boots

Schneiders® Dura-Mesh II Non-Fitted Zebra Fly Boots

Time to have some fun with these non-fitted zebra fly boots that feature improved, comfortable elastic closures. These durable mesh boots protect your horse's legs, covering the bottom of the knee to the coronet band and reducing stomping. But the real game changer here is the zebra pattern. Research studies have confirmed that the pattern confuses flies, keeping them from landing on your horse. Plus, with 70% UV protection, fleece lining for added comfort, hook and loop full-length closure, and flexible stays to prevent slouching, you'll have a set of zebra fly boots that are fun AND practical.

Learn more about how the Zebra pattern keeps flies away.

Fly Boot

How to Properly Fit Fly Boots

There are several easy steps to properly fitting a set of fly boots to your horse, ensuring they are both comfortable and protected.

Importance of a good fit

Properly fitted fly boots are key in providing optimal protection from annoying bugs, the harsh sun, and debris. If a fly boot does not fit your horse well or is not durable enough, it can easily rub or rip off, which is uncomfortable and ineffective. You do not want your horse to get bitten by flies, experience skin damage, or sustain an injury trying to run around with a loose fly boot. Plus, it can be hard to find your horse’s lost boot if it was removed in tall grass.

How to measure your horse for fly boots

To measure your horse for fly boots, you will need a measuring tape. You might need a helper as well to hold your horse still. Follow these steps:

  1. Stand your horse on a level surface, with their legs square and their weight distributed evenly.

  2. Measure the circumference of your horse's cannon bone, which is the part of the leg just below the knee or hock joint. Wrap the measuring tape around the widest part of the cannon bone, verifying that it is snug but not too tight. Keep note of this measurement.

  3. For fitted fly boots, measure the length of the cannon bone, which is the distance from the bottom of the knee or hock joint to the top of the fetlock joint. Hold the measuring tape along the front of the leg, from the joint at the top of the leg to the joint just above the hoof. Keep note of this measurement.

  4. For non-fitted fly boots, measure the length from the coronet band to the top of the cannon bone. Hold the measuring tape along the front of the leg, from right above the joint at the top of the leg to the coronet band at the top of the hoof. Keep note of this measurement.

  5. Finally, measure the circumference of your horse's fetlock joint, which is the narrowest part of the lower leg just above the hoof. Wrap the measuring tape around the fetlock joint, ensuring it is also snug but not too tight. Keep note of this measurement.

  6. Use these measurements to select the right size and style of fly boots for your horse based on the manufacturer's sizing guide.

Tips for fitting fly boots properly

  • Measure front and back legs separately
  • Check for gaps
  • Check for rubbing

Make sure you measure your horse’s front and back legs separately, as the numbers may be very different. Additionally, check for any gaps in your horse’s fly boots that bugs could enter. It could mean a pair is too big or is not shaped well for your horse’s legs. You should look for any rubs on your horse’s legs as well. If you find signs of skin irritation, your horse might need a softer set of fly boots or a set that is better shaped for their legs.

Fly Boot

Maintenance and Care for Fly boots

Since fly boots are typically made from durable mesh materials, caring for them is pretty simple. Your horse should have their fly boots on only when necessary in order to prevent rubs, irritation, and avoidable wear and tear. You should also only wash your horse’s boots as needed to further prevent loss of integrity in the material and any velcro.

Cleaning and washing instructions

  1. To clean your horse’s fly boots, fasten all closures before laundering so they do not catch or get tangled on anything. Be sure to wash with cold water and a non-irritating soap or detergent, like this Schneiders Blanket Wash.

  2. If you put the fly boots in a washing machine, put them on a gentle cycle. You can also soak and handwash fly boots in a bucket. Do not use a dryer.

  3. Once all mud and dirt are washed off, allow the fly boots plenty of time to air dry.

  4. Store fly boots in a breathable zippered storage bag in a dry, temperature-controlled environment to keep them clean and mold-free.

Fly Boots

Common Questions About Horse Fly Boots

If you have never outfitted your horse in fly boots, let us help you answer a few common questions!

Do fly boots work for horses?

Yes, fly boots are effective in providing protection from insects, dirt, and UV rays. The physical barrier that fly boots offer is effective in keeping your horse comfortable and flies off.

How do you put fly boots on your horse?

Most fly boots are designed with velcro that helps you slide or place the boots on your horse’s legs. Depending on the style, fly boots may fit and cover different areas of the leg. Check fitting guidelines to make sure your horse’s boot is on properly.

How do I know if my horse needs fly boots?

If your horse does not live in an area where bugs are everywhere, and the sun is not too intense, they might not need a set of fly boots. Most horses, though, need leg protection to prevent bug bites and stomping on the ground. Constantly stomping at flies can lead to leg injuries, hoof chips, and lost shoes, on top of causing your horse stress that they do not deserve.

While outfitting your horse in fly boots can feel a little tedious to do upon turnout, this layer of protection is essential to ensure your horse remains comfortable and protected throughout the warmer months. A well-fitted set of fly boots prevents irritation from flies, the sun, and debris. With so many options available, you are sure to find a set that keeps your horse happy as they relax and play out in the pasture!