Horse Care & ManagementSeasonal Horse Care

Do Fly Sheets Make Horses Hot Or Keep Them Cool?

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Concerned about your horse beating the summer heat? Discover the surprising truth about the role of fly sheets in keeping your horse cool. Does the color of your horse influence the effectiveness of fly sheets? Find out inside.

Do you have a dark-colored horse that gets hot under the sun?

Are you trying to find ways to keep your horse cool this summer? Wondering if a fly sheet could help with keeping your horse cool and comfortable?

Or are you worried whether the fly sheet would be a hindrance to your horse under the summer sun and cause them to be hot and sweaty?

So do fly sheets actually keep horses cool?

Fly sheets are a light color, often white, which reflects the heat rays from the sun, making the black or dark horse cooler and the grey or light colored horse prone to sunburn, protected from the UV rays. The fly sheet helps to keep the bugs from bothering the horse which means keeping the horse cooler with less restless stomping, pacing, running, and fidgeting.

I just want to make it clear that putting a fly sheet on a horse does not constitute for turning a horse out with no shade or shelter from the sun in really hot weather.

As far as extremes go horse’s do not typically do as well in heat as they do in the cold.

Are you in need of a reliable fly sheet for your horse? Discover the 7 Best Fly Sheets for Horses (Plus Special Sized Fly Sheets) and make an informed decision.

The Main Purpose Of A Fly Sheet Keeps Your Horse Cooler

The main purpose of a fly sheet is not necessarily to keep your horse cool even though most fly sheets have added UV protection. The main purpose is providing protection from flies and mosquitoes.

Some horses deal well with the bugs, it doesn’t seems to bother them much and their skin doesn’t get too irritated.

While other horses have sensitive skin to the bugs, get bumps and irritations and then there are the horses that can’t stand the bugs, they pace, kick, paw, bite, toss their head around, sometimes gallop around to try to get away.

By keeping the bugs from annoying and bothering the horse, the horse is calmer quieter and cooler. Running around, kicking and figgeting because of the flies gets the horse hot and sweaty. So in that way a fly sheet does help to keep the horse cooler as well.

A fly sheet helps the horse from the annoyance of being bit by the bugs, but especially helps the horses with sensitive skin and the horses that hates being out when it is buggy.

Bay horse on cross ties with fly mask and fly sheet. Do fly sheets make horses hot?

Type Of Horse That Would Find A Fly Sheet Helpful To Keeping Cool

A dark colored horse will absorb the sun rays more than a lighter colored horse. Like I mentioned before a white colored fly sheet will reflect the rays of the sun. This helps a dark colored horse to stay cooler.

A light colored horse like a grey could get sun burnt. Even though they reflect heat better than a dark colored horse.

Though it may not necessarily help the light colored horse become cooler. Wearing a fly sheet will protect the horse from getting a sun burn.

Type Of Horse That Would Be Better Off Without A Fly Sheet To Stay Cool

The horse’s body condition can affect how cool they are with a fly sheet on. A horse with more body fat will be hotter than a horse that is fit or has less fat.

A horse that is overweight in hot weather can get overheated more easily. A horse like this may be better off without a fly sheet.

But every horse is an individual so you should keep an eye on your horse and see how they do wearing a fly sheet and how they do without one.

The biggest reason to put on a fly sheet would be if the horse was really upset and bothered by the bugs or if they are sensitive to bug bites.

They would do best wearing a very breathable lightweight fly sheet.

Keeping Your Horse Cool As Possible With A Fly Sheet

A horse that is overweight or heavy that gets really hot, may do best with different management practices.

The heavier horse and any horse may be more comfortable going out at night during cooler temperatures while wearing a fly sheet to protect from mosquitoes. Staying in during the day with fans and windows open for a breeze.

If the heavier horse lives outside 24/7 they should have shelter available big enough for all the horses to comfortably fit in, if there are other paddock mates. However any horse should have shelter from the sun even if it is just shade from a couple of trees.

If safely possible, put a fan pointing toward the inside of the shed to help get air flow moving in there. Especially in there are a few horses in the shed which would make the area warmer.

When finding a fly sheet there are sometimes different colors you can choose from. Your best bet for reflecting heat from the sun is choosing plain old white.

There are fly sheets that are cooler than others. So make sure you shop around and find the coolest option.

The fit can also determine how cool the horse will be. You want to make sure the fly sheet isn’t hugging the horse or snugly fit. You want the fly sheet to be flowy and as airy as possible.

Make sure your horse is getting enough water in hot weather. Electrolytes can help keep your horse from getting dehydrating and get your horse drinking more water.

5 Benefits A Fly Sheet Besides Keeping The Horse Cool

  1. Well the obvious benefit is that your horse will have some peace from the annoying, bothersome flies.

Even horses that don’t show their discomfort from the flies as much as the over dramatic horse that can’t stand them will find it relieving. I would like to say they would appreciate it but that might be anthropomorphizing horses… not sure.

  1. The next one I also already mentioned. Fly sheets can protect light colored horses from getting sunburns on there body. This is even more important if the horse has pink or light colored skin.

Quick Somewhat Related Tip: If your horse has a pink nose, put a little bit of sunscreen on your horses nose before they get turned out. I see too many horses with sun burns on there cute white, pink noses.

  1. You are protecting your horse from diseases caused by mosquitoes and flies. There are a handful of diseases that can be spread from mosquitoes and flies.
  • Example for mosquitoes would be West Nile Virus, Triple E.
  • Example for flies would be Equine Infectious Anemia, Potomac Horse Fever.
  1. If your horse rolls in the dirty they will be a little bit cleaner than without a fly sheet.

Although a turnout sheet works better in that department than a fly sheet.

Also, now your fly sheet is a mess and needs to get cleaned. Especially if they rolled in mud, when the mud dries the fly sheet will be ball of dust and dirt.

  1. If you have a black horse you want to keep black or a dark horse you want to keep dark, a fly sheet can help.

The UV rays of the sun bleach out dark colored horse coats. Black horses become a burnt brown color. Where a fly sheet can protect the coat from the UV rays and prevent the bleaching.

Summing It Up

If you have a dark horse that gets hot under the sun get a white fly sheet that is airy to help your horse stay cool.

If you have a sunburn prone horse get a fly sheet to help protect from the UV rays.

Make sure your horse has access to shade.

If your horse is heavier and gets really hot outside with or without a fly sheet on, consider changing management practices to keep your horse as cool as possible.

Be sure to check out my other blog posts answering your questions, providing interesting or helpful information about horses and riding.

See you in the next blog post!

Cheers, Kacey

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Disclaimer Notice: Please be aware that horseback riding and related equestrian activities carry inherent risks. The advice and experiences shared on this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional training or advice. Ensure your safety and that of your horse by wearing appropriate gear, practicing safe horse handling, and consulting with certified equestrian professionals. Remember, each horse is unique, and techniques may vary accordingly. Always prioritize safety, respect, and patience in your equestrian endeavors.

Kacey Cleary Administrator
Kacey has been an equestrian since 1998. She was a working student at several eventing and dressage barns. She has owned horses, leased horses, and trained horses. Kacey received an A.S. in Equine Industries from UMass Amherst, where she rode on the dressage team. She was certified with the ARIA and is licensed to teach riding in MA. She has been a barn manager and has run her own horse farm.
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