In the Spring and Summer months, when fly season is in full force, you can keep bugs from biting your horse with fly protection products, such as fly sheets, fly boots, fly masks, and fly spray. Using a combination of these products keeps the biting insects from irritating your horse, but in this blog, we’re going to focus on the frequently asked questions we get regarding fly sheets.

Are fly sheets good for horses?

Yes, if you live in an area where flies are bothersome, fly sheets are a great product to keep on your horse. Fly sheets offer a variety of benefits outside of fly protection. They keep your horse calm, while also protecting them from harmful UV rays.

Is your horse extremely bothered by flies and other insects? Are they agitated outside during turnout, with copious amounts of tail-swishing, maybe pacing or running, kicking at belling, weaving, and otherwise unsettled? Or, is your horse rather unphased by anything outside, seemingly oblivious to flying insects or paying little attention to anything but the grass at their lips? Read on to learn if a fly sheet is good for your horse or not:

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - The Agitated Horse

The Agitated Horse

The horsemen’s term for this type of horse is sometimes called, “thin-skinned.” These horses are very sensitive and seem to notice every little fly landing on them, having very little patience for their presence. For these types of horses, turnout can become a time of extreme stress and anxiety, sending them into flight to escape. Often this type of horse does very well with a fly sheet, transforming their hours of torment into hours of contentment. When a fly sheet reduces stress and anxiety it is a very good thing indeed.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - The Unphased Horse

The Unphased Horse

Horses that seemingly go out to turnout without a care in the world still might benefit from a fly sheet. Even if you have not noticed this horse bolting around the pasture to rid themselves of flies, this type of horse might still be thankful to wear a fly sheet and use their tail less.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Sensitive to Insect Bites

The Sensitive to Insect Bites Horse

Some horses have more of a reaction to insect bites, just like people. These horses come in from turnout with welts and bumps galore. You may notice while grooming these horses they lean into your brush strokes, enjoying the scratch you are providing. A fly sheet can help provide relief to these horses just by preventing the shear amount of insect bites.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Horses’ with Dark Coats

The Dark Coat Horse

Bay, dark bay and black horses sometimes turn orangey or “bleached out” in the sun and their coats can become rough. Sometimes dark coated horses seem to run hotter as well. A fly sheet with UV protection can help keep your horse’s dark coat darker by reducing the amount of UV rays able to reach their coats - some up to an 80% reduction.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Horses’ with Light Coats

The Light Coat Horse

Horses with white coats, pink skin and light coats can be at risk for sunburns and skin damage from the sun. A UV fly sheet can reduce the amount of damaging UV rays able to reach your horse’s skin, leaving them better protected during turnout.

How hot is too hot for a fly sheet?

When deciding if it is too hot for a fly sheet, first determine the amount of shade your horse has access to. Access is key. Although most turnout buddies are harmonious, if there are issues in the herd and there is only one small bit of shade, it can become a problem. Shade trees not only provide excellent shade but also allow airflow in all directions. Turning out a horse in hot weather, with a fly sheet, that has access to shade trees should not be a problem. It is always advisable to check on your horses frequently in extremely hot weather / high heat index, whether wearing a fly sheet or not.

If your turnout does not have adequate shade trees you may have a run-in shed. Run-in sheds can provide shade if deep enough but if there is not enough airflow, they can become very stuffy. In addition, if they are not dry and clean, they may also become very buggy. If you only have a run-in shed to provide shade, be sure they provide enough airflow and are not a bug trap. Even If your horse is wearing a breathable fly sheet there might not be enough airflow with this type of shade to keep them as comfortable as possible. In addition, a confined space full of bugs will be a challenge for any fly sheet to meet completely. Check on your horse often during hot weather / high heat index days to be sure your horse is comfortable.

In hotter climates, it is common to see structures made for shade. These typically are tilted roofs on poles with open sides, allowing the maximum amount of shade and airflow. Typically, a horse wearing a breathable mesh fly sheet is very comfortable with this type of shade structure. As always, during hot weather / high heat index days, it is always advisable to check on your horse’s comfort level whether wearing a fly sheet or not.

What temperature should I put a fly sheet on my horse?

Knowing the right temperature is right for a fly sheet depends on the amount of shade available, your horse’s breed and color, and humidity. Many horse owners are comfortable putting a fly sheet on their horse at anything under a 90-degree heat index. If the horse has access to a cool environment, such as fans, they can sometimes wear a fly sheet above those temperatures. It’s crucial to monitor your horse’s body, making sure they’re not overheating or sweating.

What is the coolest fly sheet for horses?

The coolest fly sheets for horses in the summer are those made with a larger mesh fabric specifically designed for breathability. A great choice would be a fly sheet made with Ripstop Nylon Mesh, as they are lightweight and made of a looser weave allowing for better airflow.

Can you leave fly sheets on in the rain?

You can leave a fly sheet on your horse in the rain, but it’s important to realize that fly sheets are not waterproof. The mesh breathable fly sheets allow for rain to pass through the sheet. If your horse is out in the rain or a passing shower, it will become wet while continuing to keep biting insects at bay.

Do fly sheets protect from mosquitos?

Yes, some fly sheets protect your horse from mosquitos. Many fly sheets on the market come in a variety of different materials, and A Mosquito Mesh Fly Sheet is the perfect solution to protecting your horse from mosquitos. If you’re looking for a fly sheet that protects from the smallest of insects, you need to look for what mesh material the fly sheet is made from.

Do fly sheets rub the mane?

A properly fitting fly sheet should not rub your horse’s mane. It’s important when looking for a fly sheet that you pay attention to fitting the withers of your horse. This is one of the points of contact from which the sheet falls and can influence how the sheet hangs and fits on the shoulders and point of the hip.