Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer?

Fly sheets have come a long way since their introduction to the horse clothing line. And they seem to have very strong proponents and opponents. But whether your horse should have a fly sheet in the summer depends on a few different factors that revolve around your specific horse.

First and foremost, what type of horse do you have? 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 about different types of horses and how a fly sheet might help them enjoy a more comfortable summer.

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

Sensitive to insect bites:

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

Horses’ with dark coats:

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

Horses’ with light coats:

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.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - hot Weather

Hot weather:

Although horse’s benefit greatly from shade in their turnouts and should be provided shade, fly sheets are light in color and help to reflect the sun's heated rays. In addition, fly sheets are made with breathable mesh materials to help airflow over the horse’s skin.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Rainy Weather

Rainy weather:

Mesh breathable fly sheets allow for rain to pass through the sheet. If your horse is out in the rain or in a passing shower, they will become wet while continuing to keep biting insects at bay.

As with any type of turnout, a fly sheet should be removed when the horse is brought in to be sure the horse has not sustained any type of injury or issue during turnout.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - How Hot is Too Hot for a Fly Sheet?

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 as access too. 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, they 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 air flow 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 structure made for shade. These typically are tilted roofs on poles with open sides, allowing 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.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - What is the Coolest Fly sheet for Horses in the Summer?

What is the Coolest Fly sheet for Horses in the Summer?

The coolest fly sheet 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 Dura-Tech° Ripstop Nylon Mesh, as they are lightweight and made of a looser weave allowing for better air flow.

Finally, another important factor when determining whether to fly sheet your horse during hot weather is a conversation with your vet. Your vet can help you determine whether your horse’s breed and body condition could contribute to “overheating” regardless if they are wearing a fly sheet or going without.

Shop the Best Fly Sheets for Horses in Hot Weather at Schneiders

The best fly sheets for your horse is one that fits well. A great fit can be found by utilizing different types of design features available in fly sheets.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Front Closures

Front Closures:

Fly sheets are available in adjustable front buckle closures, snaps, surcingle closure or quick click closures. The most important feature of a front closure is that it stays closed and is adjustable to fit the width of your horse’s chest.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Belly Closure

Belly Closure:

You have the option of a fly sheet with a bellyband (a wide panel of fly sheet material, usually secured on one side and buckles on the other) or crossing or straight surcingle closures. Which one you chose depends on your horse’s needs, temperament and how well they wear clothing. Surcingle’s can have more adjustability than a bellyband, depending on design.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Withers

Withers:

Fitting the withers of your horse with a fly sheet is important as this is one of the points of contact in which the sheet falls from and can influence how the sheet hangs and fits on the shoulders and point of hip. There are a few wither styles fly sheets use to help provide a great fit for different conformations. The Cutback Wither helps to fit horses with high withers. This enables the point of the withers to be above the turnout, allowing the fly sheet to lay flatter along the horse’s back without a pressure point at the wither. The Patented VTEK® Wither Relief fly sheets are designed to prevent rubbing and relieve pressure on high to moderate withers as well. They are uniquely designed to fit Thoroughbreds, Warmbloods, Appendix horses, or those with an upright shoulder conformation. This design is not cut back and in fact extends 6 to 8 inches onto the mane with fleece placed where the mane meets the sheet to prevent rubbing.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Shoulder Designs

Shoulder designs:

There are a few different fly turnout sheet designs that help fit your horse’s shoulders. A common design is the gusset. A shoulder gusset is created with a dart at the top of the shoulder allowing more fabric below, leaving room for the front legs and shoulder to move. Another design is the patented Adjusta-Fit® system that customizes the neck opening to fit any horse width or head carriage. This unique feature is what allows the same sheet to fit both a wide Warmblood and a narrow Thoroughbred.

Choose from the following fly sheet materials:

The best materials for your horse’s fly sheet depend on exactly what they need most, whether it be protecting from all insects including the smallest gnats, to providing the highest amount of UV protection.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Mosquito Mesh

Mosquito Mesh:

Fly sheets are available in adjustable front buckle closures, snaps, surcingle closure or quick click closures. The most important feature of a front closure is that it stays closed and is adjustable to fit the width of your horse’s chest.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Hybrid

Hybrid Sheet:

The hybrid fly sheet protects against all flying insects and blocks up to 80% of the sun's harmful UV rays. With a hybrid sheet you do not have to choose between fly protection or sun protection.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - NaturalShield Sheet

NaturalShield® Sheet:

The NaturalShield® sheet is infused with essential oil extracts of lavender, lemon and eucalyptus for 92% repellency of mosquitos. This sheet creates a natural barrier and provides a natural insect repellent all in one sheet.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Soft Interlocking Mesh

Soft Interlocking Mesh:

Fly sheets made with soft interlocking mesh provide the best sun protection, blocking up to 80% of the harmful UV rays. This helps to keep your horse’s coat from bleaching out and feeling rough.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Ripstop Nylon Mesh

Ripstop Nylon Mesh:

These fly sheets are made with a wider weave, lightweight nylon that provides the maximum amount of airflow while still providing a barrier against insects. The ripstop design keeps the sheet from continuing to fray if snagged.

Can My Horse Wear a Fly Sheet in the Summer - Dura-Mesh

Dura-Mesh:

A fly sheet made with Dura-Mesh is a workhorse. Tough and able to stand up to the most playful horses. These are made with 1000D poly vinyl coated mesh that provides a durable barrier between your horse and pesky insects.