Are Fly Sheets Good for Horses? (The Truth!)

Chestnut horse outside in summer with full neck and fly sheet combo. benefits of fly sheets

Are fly sheets good for horses? Yes, fly sheets are good for horses as they provide protection against irritating insects, reducing the risk of bites and potential infections. They can also offer UV protection, preventing sunburn and coat bleaching for both dark and light-coated horses. Additionally, fly sheets can help alleviate stress and anxiety in sensitive horses during fly season, promoting overall well-being.

So, you’re considering investing in a fly sheet for your horse, huh?  

Are you tired of pesky insects biting and bothering your horse during the fly season?

You’re in the right place. I’ve dealt with all sorts of horses and situations, and I’m here to help you make an informed decision about whether fly sheets are worth it for your horse.

Let’s dive in and evaluate the pros and cons of fly sheets, considering your horse’s health and comfort,  factors to consider when choosing the right one for your horse, and some essential tips to keep in mind.

And if you’re interested in finding the best fly sheets for your horse, check out this resource: best fly sheets for horses.

5 Misconceptions About Fly Sheets

1. Fly sheets are only necessary in the summer

Many people believe that fly sheets are only necessary during the summer months when flies are more prevalent. However, this is not entirely true.

Flies can still be present in the spring and fall, and horses can still be bothered by them. In addition to flies, other insects such as mosquitoes and gnats can also be present during these times of the year. Therefore, it is important to use a fly sheet whenever flies or other insects are present, regardless of the time of year.

2. Fly sheets are uncomfortable for horses

Some people believe that fly sheets are uncomfortable for horses because they are too hot or restrictive. However, this is not necessarily true.

There are many different types of fly sheets available on the market, and some are made from lightweight, breathable fabrics that are designed to keep horses cool and comfortable. Some fly sheets even have features such as mesh panels and vents that allow for air flow and prevent the horse from overheating.

3. Fly sheets are unnecessary if a horse is in a barn or stall

While horses that spend most of their time in a barn or stall may be less bothered by flies, they can still benefit from the protection of a fly sheet when they are turned out or ridden outside.

Flies can still be present in barns and stables, and horses can still be bitten or bothered by them even if they are inside. Additionally, if a horse is turned out in a pasture, they will be exposed to even more flies and insects, making a fly sheet even more important.

4. Fly sheets are only for show horses

While it is true that fly sheets can be used in show settings to help keep horses clean and free of bites and irritation, they are useful for all horses regardless of their level of activity or discipline.

All horses can be bothered by flies and other insects, and a fly sheet can help to protect them from bites and irritation while also helping to keep their coat clean and free of stains.

5. Fly sheets are only for horses with light coats

All horses can benefit from the protection of a fly sheet, regardless of the color of their coat. Flies can be bothersome to horses with any type of coat, and a fly sheet can help to prevent bites and irritation.

Additionally, some horses may have sensitive skin that is more prone to irritation from insect bites, making a fly sheet even more important for their comfort and wellbeing.

dark colored horse wearing light fly sheet. Are fly sheets good for horses?

10 Benefits of Fly Sheets

Fly sheets can offer several advantages to your horse, from protection against pesky insects to maintaining a healthy weight.

Let’s break it down.

Benefit How Fly Sheet Is Good
Insect Protection Fly sheets act as a physical barrier, preventing insects from biting and irritating the horse’s skin.
Soothing Sensitive Skin Fly sheets help manage skin sensitivities and reactions to insect bites and other irritants.
Sun Protection Fly sheets with UV protection shield horses from sunburn and skin damage, especially in light-colored horses.
Body Temperature Regulation Fly sheets reflect sunlight and allow air circulation, keeping horses cool on hot days.
Calm and Contentment Fly sheets reduce stress and anxiety by keeping pesky insects at bay, promoting overall contentment.
Disease Prevention Fly sheets lower the risk of insect-borne diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
Coat Protection Fly sheets prevent coat damage and bald patches caused by horses rubbing their coats raw.
Cooling Comfort Properly fitted, breathable fly sheets prevent sweating and overheating, keeping horses comfortable.
Healthy Weight Maintenance Fly sheets conserve energy by reducing the need for constant movement, helping maintain a healthy weight.
Cost-Effective Protection Fly sheets save money by reducing the need for fly repellent, such as fly spray.

Protection from Pesky Insects

Fly sheets serve to protects against pesky insects.

Fly sheets serve as a physical barrier that prevents insects from landing on the horse’s skin, which can help prevent skin irritations, and infections caused by insect bites as well as horse being annoyed by bugs.

Soothing Sensitive Skin

Horses with sensitive skin can benefit from fly sheets, as they help manage reactions to insect bites or other irritants.

There are some horses that develop skin sensitivities and reactions to insect bites and other irritants. Fly sheets can help manage these conditions and help fight against hives and bumps.

Shielding from the Sun

Prevents sunburn with fly sheets.

Some fly sheets are made from materials that provide UV protection, which can help prevent sunburn on sensitive areas of the horse’s skin, such as the back and sides.

This can be especially important for horses with light-colored or pink skin that is more susceptible to sunburn.

Regulating Body Temperature

On hot days, fly sheets help keep your horse cool and comfortable.

Some fly sheets, not all, can help regulate a horse’s body temperature by reflecting sunlight and allowing air to circulate under the sheet, which can help keep the horse cooler on hot days.

This benefit applies mostly to horses with dark coats who are more susceptible to heat and sunburn.

Calming and Content

Fly sheets can reduce stress and anxiety in horses, promoting overall contentment.

Horses that are constantly bothered by flies can become agitated and upset, can lead to behaviors such as stomping their feet and swishing their tail.

Continuous stomping can lead to hoof cracks, lameness, and leg soreness. This obviously affects your horse’s overall health and well-being. Fly sheets can help keep horses calm and content, which can reduce these behaviors and keep your horse happier.

Disease Prevention

By reducing exposure to biting insects, fly sheets can lower the risk of diseases like West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.

Flies and mosquitoes can spread diseases to horses, just like they can spread diseases to humans.

Examples of diseases that can be transmitted to horses by flies and mosquitoes, such as equine infectious anemia, Eastern equine encephalitis, and vesicular stomatitis.

Biting midges and flies can cause problems for horses, such as transmitting worms and causing bleeding and crusting in the ears.

Fly sheets provide a physical barrier that prevents insects from landing on the horse’s skin, which can help reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Protecting the Coat

Fly sheets help prevent coat damage and bald areas.

There are horses that rub their coats raw against fences or trees from the itchiness of the bug bites and can develop unsightly bald patches. Fly sheets can help prevent this type of coat damage, provided that the fly sheet is fitting properly and not causing rubs itself.

Cooling Comfort

Fly sheets can reduce sweating and overheating in certain circumstances.

Horses that are constantly moving around to avoid flies can become sweaty and overheated, especially on hot days.

While fly sheets can help reduce the need for constant movement, some fly sheets may cause sweating and overheating, making it difficult to decide whether to use a fly sheet on really hot days.

It’s important to choose a fly sheet that is made from breathable material and fits properly to minimize the risk of overheating. This can help keep horses cooler and more comfortable, and prevent dehydration and other heat-related health issues with the right fly sheet made from breathable material and proper fit.

Healthy Weight Maintenance

Fly sheets can save the horse’s energy, and in turn help horses maintain a healthy weight. This goes along closely with the previous benefit.

Often there are horses that will constantly moving around to avoid flies. They end up burning more calories than necessary and in turn may experience weight loss.

Fly sheets can help prevent this by reducing the need for constant movement and which helps with saving calories.

Cost-Effective Protection

Using fly sheets can save money on fly repellent, like fly spray.

This is because fly sheets can reduce the amount of fly repellent needed to protect your horse from insect bites, which can save money over time.

Instead of spraying your horse all over without a fly sheet, you would spray all the exposed areas instead.

Here’s a great resource on the best fly sheets for horses to help you make the right choice.

Potential Drawbacks of Fly Sheets

Like most things, fly sheets have their drawbacks. Let’s explore some potential issues and how to avoid them.

Potential Drawback Description Tips for Avoidance
Not Foolproof Fly sheets don’t protect against all insects, like ticks. Be aware of their limitations and perform tick checks.
Overheating Fly sheets may trap heat against the horse’s skin, causing overheating and discomfort. Choose a breathable fly sheet and monitor the horse.
Restrictive Snug-fitting fly sheets may limit the horse’s movement. Choose a fly sheet that allows for mobility.
Misalignment or Twisting Fly sheets can become twisted or misaligned, causing irritation. Ensure proper fit and adjust as needed.
Cleaning and Maintenance Dirty fly sheets can lead to skin irritation or infection. Clean the fly sheet regularly and inspect for damage.
Improper Fit Poorly fitted fly sheets can cause rubbing, irritation, and sores. Select a well-fitted fly sheet with appropriate straps.

Not Foolproof

Fly sheets can’t protect against all insects, like ticks.

Be aware of their limitations. Fly sheets can provide a physical barrier that can make it more difficult for ticks to reach the horse’s skin, but they are not specifically designed to prevent or protect against ticks. Ticks can still latch onto the horse’s skin through gaps in the fly sheet or by climbing up from the ground.

Avoiding Overheating

Make sure your horse doesn’t get too hot while wearing a fly sheet, especially in turnout.

Fly sheets can help regulate a horse’s body temperature by reflecting sunlight and allowing air to circulate under the sheet. However, in some situations, fly sheets can also trap heat against the horse’s skin, especially in hot and humid weather, which can cause overheating and discomfort.

Balance Between Protection and Mobility

Choose a fly sheet that fits well and doesn’t restrict movement.

Some fly sheets are designed to fit snugly on the horse’s body to prevent insects from entering underneath. While this can be effective in preventing insect bites, it can also be restrictive and limit the horse’s movement.

Comfort Concerns

Misaligned or twisted fly sheets can cause irritation. Ensure a proper fit.

Fly sheets may become twisted or misaligned during the horse’s movement, causing discomfort and irritation. This problem is more likely to occur when the fly sheet is not properly fitted, such as too big or when it lacks a tail or leg straps.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Regularly clean your fly sheet to prevent skin irritation and infection.

Fly sheets can become dirty and accumulate sweat, dirt, and grime over time. This can lead to skin irritation or infection if the fly sheet is not regularly cleaned and maintained.

Proper Fit

Avoid rubbing and discomfort by choosing a well-fitted fly sheet with the right belly band and fly boots.

Fly sheets that are not properly fitted to the horse’s body can rub against the skin, which can cause discomfort, irritation, and even sores. It’s important to ensure that the fly sheet fits well and does not rub or chafe the horse’s skin.

Bay horse with a star in summer paddock with fly sheet on. Find the right fly sheet for your horse.

Choosing the Right Fly Sheet for Your Horse

It’s essential to pick the right fly sheet for your horse’s specific needs. Here are some factors to consider

Horse Type Fly Sheet Features Benefits
Sensitive to Insect Bites Snug fit, durable material Reduces insect bites, provides relief from itching and irritation
Dark Coat UV protection Prevents sunburn and coat bleaching, keeps coat rich and shiny
Light Coat UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) Protects against sunburns and skin damage
Agitated Horse Snug fit, durable material, lightweight Reduces stress and anxiety, promotes calm behavior during turnout
Unphased Horse Lightweight, breathable, adequate coverage Provides extra defense against flies, reduces tail swishing and hoof stomping, increases comfort

The Sensitive to Insect Bites Horse

You know how some people are just more susceptible to insect bites? Well, horses are no different! If your horse is prone to getting all itchy and irritated from those pesky bug bites, they’ll need some extra protection. Look for a fly sheet with a snug fit and durable material that’s tough on bugs but gentle on your horse’s skin.

Just like us, some horses have more of a reaction to insect bites. You might find these horses come in from turnout covered in welts and bumps. And when you’re grooming them, they just can’t get enough of your brush strokes, enjoying the scratch you provide.

A fly sheet can work wonders for these horses by significantly reducing the number of insect bites they experience, providing them with much-needed relief.

The Dark Coat Horse

Oh, those beautiful bay, dark bay, and black horses! Their coats can sometimes turn orangey or “bleached out” in the sun and become rough.

And you know what? Dark coated horses might even feel hotter because of their darker coat color. But no worries!

A fly sheet with UV protection can help keep your horse’s dark coat looking rich and shiny by reducing the amount of UV rays able to reach their coats – some even offer up to an 80% reduction.

So, keep your horse looking fabulous while keeping them cool and protected!

The Light Coat Horse

Got a horse with a white coat, pink skin, or light coat? These beauties can be at risk for sunburns and skin damage from the sun. But don’t worry, a UV fly sheet can be their knight in shining armor!

It reduces the amount of damaging UV rays that reach your horse’s skin, keeping them safe and sound during turnout.

So, go ahead and invest in a fly sheet with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) to make sure your light-coated pal stays protected.

The Agitated Horse

Ah, the “thin-skinned” horse – they’re so 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.

But, worry not! A fly sheet can be their savior, transforming their hours of torment into hours of contentment. When a fly sheet reduces stress and anxiety, it’s a fantastic thing indeed.

So, for your sensitive buddy, find a fly sheet with a snug fit and durable material that’s tough on bugs but gentle on your horse’s skin.

Trust me, they’ll thank you for it!

The Unphased Horse

Ah, the unphased horse – they’re the cool, calm, and collected ones, aren’t they?

You see them out in the turnout, and they seem to handle the fly season like a champ. But even these laid-back equine pals might appreciate some extra protection from those pesky flies.

You may not have seen them darting around, trying to shake off those annoying insects, but deep down, they could be wishing for a little relief. That’s where a fly sheet can work its magic.

Not only will it help your chill buddy fend off those pesky bugs, but it’ll also give their tail a well-deserved break from all that swishing and swatting. Plus, it can help reduce hoof stomping, which is another way horses try to get rid of irritating flies.

When choosing a fly sheet for the unphased horse, opt for one that’s lightweight and breathable. The last thing you want is to make your easy-going pal feel uncomfortable or restricted.

Look for a fly sheet that provides adequate coverage without weighing them down, and remember to monitor their reaction to it.

You might just find that even the most unflappable horse will be grateful for the extra defense against those pesky flies, and their hooves will thank you for the reduced stomping!

The Benefits of Fly Sheets Summarized

So, are fly sheets good for horses?

The answer depends on your horse’s specific needs and circumstances.

Fly sheets can provide numerous benefits, from insect protection to sun protection. However, it’s crucial to consider potential drawbacks, like overheating or restricted movement, and choose the right fly sheet for your horse.

Keep your horse’s health, comfort, and well-being in mind, and don’t forget the financial aspects when making your decision.

With this information and the best fly sheets for horses resource, you’re well-equipped to make an informed choice.

Remember, fly sheets can be an excellent investment for many horses, but always observe and listen to your horse’s needs. They’re counting on you to make the best decision for their welfare.

In addition to fly sheets, consider other fly protection measures like fly masks and fly boots to keep your horse comfortable during fly season. Along with these, ensure you have a proper turnout schedule and use fly repellents like fly spray when needed.

Lastly, don’t forget to address any questions and concerns you have about fly sheets with your veterinarian, or other horse care professionals. Learning from others can be invaluable when it comes to your horse’s well-being.

Key Takeaways
1. Fly sheets offer numerous benefits, such as protection from insects, sun protection, and stress reduction.
2. Some potential drawbacks include overheating, restricted movement, and comfort concerns.
3. Choose the right fly sheet for your horse based on their specific needs and coat type.
4. Observe your horse’s behavior to determine if a fly sheet is necessary for their comfort and well-being.
5. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the fly sheet can prevent skin irritation and infection.
6. Consider additional fly protection measures like fly masks, fly boots, and repellents.
7. Consult with fellow equestrians and horse care professionals to learn from their experiences.

By understanding the pros and cons of fly sheets, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether they are right for your horse.

Cheers, Kacey

Kacey Administrator
Kacey has been riding and working with horses since 1998. She got an A.S. in Equine Industries from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was also on the UMass dressage team. She was certified by the American Riding Instructors Association and is licensed to teach riding in Massachusetts. She has been a barn manager and has run a boarding and lesson barn. Kacey was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses from untouched to green as well as retrained racehorses. For more on Kacey, you can look at her About The Blog page.
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