Function and benefits

Are fly sheets useful?

Fly sheets can be seen in many pastures and paddocks. Sometimes they are striped, mostly you see light colors like beige or gray and sometimes the horse is wrapped up from head to toe. But why do horse owners do this at all? Shouldn't the horse be able to naturally ward off insects with its mane and tail? We will try to give you an overview, make recommendations and explain why fly sheets can be useful.

Buy fly sheet

Close-up of a fly sheet

Basics

What is a fly sheet actually?

A fly rug for horses is characterized by a particularly close-meshed net structure. These tight meshes prevent annoying insects such as flies, horse flies or black flies from penetrating the horse's skin.

But then why not just use a cotton blanket to keep insects away? Very easily! Your horse would sweat too much in summer. The tight meshes of a fly rug don't let crawling critters through, but they are air-permeable and breathable. This counteracts heat build-up.

Which horses are fly sheets suitable for?

Fly sheets are suitable for all types of horses. Whether warmblood, thoroughbred, coldblood or pony – if the burden of insects is high, all horses benefit from a fly sheet.

  • for horses that feel severely disturbed
  • Horse runs restlessly towards us in the meadow
  • Horse is unfocused when riding, hits its head, strongly with its tail
  • clipped horses, which therefore have no natural protection
  • Horses that show defensive reactions such as pustules or hives
  • Eczema sufferers (mane and tail chafed by black flies)

As soon as your horse shows these reactions, you should consider using a fly sheet.

Many horse owners cover their horses with a fly sheet from mid/late May onwards, when the insect infestation becomes particularly high and the grazing season begins.

What should be considered when buying a fly rug?

There are a few questions you should ask yourself before buying to find the right fly sheet:

  • Type of fly sheet: simple, with neck part or eczema blanket
  • Size: Use the normal blanket size of your horse as a guide. The blanket should not be too big so that no creepy crawlies can slip under it. But it should not be too tight either so that it does not constrict or rub and your horse can move properly
  • Tear resistance: If your horse tends to romp around a lot, you should look for high tear resistance
  • Color: choose a light blanket that reflects sunlight or a zebra blanket
  • Features: Cross straps, leg straps and tail straps ensure a non-slip fit even during and after rolling

Suitable for your horse

Fly sheets - types

A horse's needs can be quite individual. Therefore, the manufacturers offer different fly rugs. So you can choose the right blanket for your horse and have to make little or no compromises. Below we explain the different models.

Eczema blankets

  • for very sensitive horses that tend to have skin problems and chafed manes and tails
  • consists of a very tight-meshed, breathable material
  • always has a neck part, sometimes with sewn-in ears or ear cutouts
  • Belly bib protects most of the horse’s belly
  • long tail flap protects the sensitive tail
  • fits closer to the horse's body
  • Elastic inserts ensure greater freedom of movement

Fly riding blankets

  • have a saddle cutout
  • are closed with Velcro in front of the saddle
  • also available with chest closure
  • also available as a kidney fly sheet

zebra blankets

  • Insects cannot see the horse well through the stripes
  • Stripe pattern prevents horseflies from targeting the horse
  • protect somewhat more effectively against insects

Questions answered easily

Fly Sheets - FAQ

Do you have to remove a wet fly rug or can it stay on when it rains?

This depends entirely on the material of the blanket and the intensity of the rain. The blanket should dry very quickly to avoid chafing and colds.

If it is rather cold, you should take off the wet fly sheet, as it will not dry quickly enough. The moisture must also not accumulate under the sheet. If rain is forecast, you should opt for a fly sheet with rain protection at the back.

Can the fly rug be left on the horse day and night?

In principle, nothing stands in the way. But you should pay attention to the quality and comfort of the fly rug. With some horses, especially sweet itch and horses with severe allergies, the owner unfortunately has no choice but to leave the blanket on for 24 hours.

Make sure that your horse has enough freedom of movement and that there are no chafing or pressure points if the blanket is left on the horse for a longer period of time. You should also pay attention to a high level of breathability so that your horse does not sweat unnecessarily and the skin gets enough air.

How much do fly rugs cost?

Horse blankets to protect against flies and other insects are relatively cheap to buy. Simple model of Busse, Kalvalkade or Waldhausen are available for around 30 €.

If you want more features, better tear resistance or additional options such as a removable neck piece, the fly sheet will be more expensive. Our most popular manufacturers of fly sheets are Horseware, Eskadron, Bucas and also Kentucky Horsewear.

How do I prevent my horse from sweating under the fly rug?

If your horse sweats under the fly rug, you should switch to a lighter model. Above all, you should also give him a shady place in the pasture, for example with a shelter. Light-colored fly rugs reflect the sunlight, making it less warm under the rug. Bucas also offers special fly rugs with extra UV protection, which provide more sun protection.