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What is a fly rug and when is it needed?
Fly rugs, sweet itch rugs and fly sheets are all types of horse rugs known under the general term fly rug. Each rug provides varying amounts of protection from summer weather and biting insects and some can be used out in the field or when stabled to help protect from stable flies as well as helping to keep your horse free from dust, clean and comfortable when stabled. Fly Rugs are predominantly used throughout the warmer spring/summer months, when temperatures are high and biting insects cause a nuisance to horses and ponies. Fly rugs are used as a lightweight and breathable barrier to biting insects, keeping your horse free from fly bites. Fly sheets can also provide added protection against summer weather, helping to reflect the sun's rays and in some cases, help shield against UV rays depending on the fabric used.
Generally fly sheets and rugs are made from lightweight mesh materials making them practical for the summer season. Some designs do come with waterproof materials to help add some protection from lightweight showers, keeping your horse dry.
Why should you use a fly rug?
Some horses need maximum protection in the summer season, having sensitive skin or conditions such as sweet itch. Rugs that feature full hoods and belly wraps for maximum coverage are best used on those horses and ponies that are particularly sensitive to fly bites, ideally made from materials that are fine mesh or a close weave to act as a barrier from even the smallest of horse flies or midges. Fly masks can also be used to add extra fly protection to your horse's head, eyes and ears.
Durable mesh forms a barrier over the horse's eyes to aid in the relief from flies and insects and usually made from breathable mesh fabric to help your horse remain comfortable in the summer heat. Masks come in a variety of designs, with and without ear and nose protection, so you can select the right style for your horse or pony depending on their needs.
Some owners also use fly repellent coat sprays and creams, made from a variety of chemical and natural oils that flies and midges do not like. When sprayed over the horse's coat this forms a repellent barrier to insects and can be used alone or alongside fly rugs and masks.
What are the types of fly rugs?
Fly rugs come in various shapes and properties that offer various benefits and features designed to protect both ponies & horses from flies and other pesky insects. Here are the types of fly rugs available.
Waterproof fly rug: Although typically there aren’t as many flies in rainy weather, flies seem to get anywhere and everywhere! Waterproof fly rugs are versatile and as they can be used in various weather conditions. They can be used during mild rainy weather or in areas where the weather can change quite quickly. Even though they have initially been made for rainy weather, some waterproof fly rugs remain to offer UV protection to shield the horse from harmful sunburn.
Sweet itch rugs: Sweet itch rugs are specifically designed for horses prone to sweet itch - is an allergic reaction to the bites of certain insects. The sweet itch fly rugs offer extra protection and full coverage against midge bites and reduce the likelihood of sweet itch development. Fly rugs are extremely effective in managing sweet itch, in addition to insect repellents and other veteraniry care to ensure your horse is safe and comfortable.
Standard mesh fly rugs: The mesh fly rugs are basic fly rugs made of fine mesh material designed to protect the horse from flies and other insects. They offer good airflow and prevent insects from irritating the horse's skin
Combo neck fly rugs: The combo neck fly rugs feature an integrated neck cover, providing additional protection for the horse's neck and mane against insect bites and sun exposure.
Detachable neck fly rugs: Similar to combo neck fly rugs, these have a detachable neck cover, offering versatility for use in varying weather conditions. The neck cover can be attached or removed as needed.
Belly wrap fly rugs: Fly rugs with belly wraps provide extra coverage around the belly area, offering enhanced protection against flies and insects.
Fly sheet liners: The fly sheet liners can be used under other blankets or rugs to provide additional fly protection, especially when layering during cooler weather.
High-Neck Fly Rugs: These fly rugs feature a higher neckline than standard designs, offering increased coverage and protection for horses susceptible to insect bites along the withers and neck.
Pony fly rugs: Fly rugs designed specifically for ponies, appropriate for their smaller stature.
Fly masks and neck covers
Fly masks and neck covers are essential and are designed to protect horses from insects that can irritate and potentially harm eyes, ears, and neck. These products offer several benefits and features, such as:
- eye protection: Fly masks have mesh and/or fabric material that covers the horse's eyes, providing protection against flippant flies. This is crucial for preventing eye irritation.
- ear protection: Fly masks also have ear coverings to protect the horse's ears from fly bites and irritations. Ear protection is especially important for horses prone to insect-related ear issues.
- uv protection: Some fly masks come with UV-protective material to shield the horse's sensitive facial skin from sunburn.
- breathability: Fly masks and neck covers are designed to be breathable, allowing for proper air circulation to prevent overheating and discomfort
- secure fit: Adjustable straps or closures ensure a secure and customized fit, preventing the mask from slipping or causing irritation.
- nose protection: Some fly masks include a nose flap for additional protection against sunburn and insect bites on the nose.
- coverage: Neck covers extend the protection provided by fly masks, offering coverage to the horse's neck and sometimes the shoulders and chest.
- prevention of bites: Neck covers prevent flies and other insects from biting the horse's neck, reducing the risk of irritation and potential allergic reactions.
Which fly rug is best for your horse?
Choosing a fly rug that’s suitable for your hose will depend on several things. Are they prone to sensitive skin or sweet-itch during the warmer months? Do they need protection from rain or the sun?
Check out our best selling products below
- Lightweight breathable mesh
- Perfect everyday fly rug
- Great quality but a price that won’t break the bank
Our best-selling fly rug made from lightweight and breathable mesh material whilst still acting as a barrier against biting insects. Featuring anti-rub lining on the shoulders and neck to help keep your horse comfortable and free from unwanted rug rubs. This rug a summer must have if your horse needs some added protection from flies and biting insects.
- Have the best of both, not quite a fly rug and not quite a rain sheet
- Combination fabrics for sunny days to summer showers
- Versatile rug to take you through the changing seasons
This rug uses the same lightweight mesh fabric as used on the original VentoMasta fly rug but with the addition of waterproof fabric over the top-line. This weatherproof fabric is the same waterproof & breathable 600D ripstop polyester as our best selling VentoMasta turnout rugs.
Top Tip - Great for this time of year with the changing weather between seasons, or for horses who can get too hot in a regular lightweight turnout rug as the combination fabrics help against overheating.
- Heavyweight breathable mesh
- Full coverage with hood and belly wrap
- Perfect for Horses who require a bit more protection than a regular fly rug
Designed for horses who need a fly rug with a bit more protection, featuring a long length hood with ear holes, extra long tail flap and adjustable belly wrap. The heavyweight mesh is a robust material with a close weave to act as a barrier from even small insects and flies but still allowing airflow and breathability.
Featuring gussets at either side of the belly wrap to ensure freedom of movement. Comfort is key with soft fleece trim to the ear holes and anti-rub lining to the chest and hood.
- Cotton like polyester fabric
- Maximum coverage from head to tail
- Acts as a barrier to the sun and the smallest of insects
Perfect for horses who find the summer months challenging and need ultimate coverage and protection. The very close weave material will act as a barrier to even the smallest of insects and help block out the sun’s rays with a UPF Rating of +50.
Top Tip - Also doubles up as a great summer sheet for helping to keep your horse comfortable and dust free whilst in the stable or preparing for a show when it's too warm for a stable rug.
- Featuring the award winning “Domeneck” design to help prevent mane loss
- Versatile rug to take you through the summer months
- Can be used as a summer sheet or fly rug
Our innovative Fieldmasta range has a new style – as requested by you! Using a combination of two fabrics in key areas to protect where needed. Heavyweight close weave mesh is used at the sides to help with airflow and protecting against biting insects.
Close weave polyester is used for extra protection over the top-line, and also helps block out the sun’s rays with a UPF Rating of +50. The rug features a fully adjustable front closure for a custom fit and the large tri-vent gusset for freedom of movement.
Top Tip – The features of this rug are perfect for horses with broad chests and shoulders or for those who suffer from rubbed manes and shoulders in regular rugs.
Fly Rug Maintenance
Correct maintenance of fly rugs is crucial to ensure longevity, effectiveness, and the comfort of the horse or pony.
The frequency of washing a fly rug depends on a number of things, including the weather conditions, and the environment in which the horse is kept. If your horse or pony is in a warm climate, the rug would need to be washed more regularly than a horse kept in a cool climate.
Remove Excess Dirt:
Preliminary to washing, using a soft brush gently remove any excess mud, hair, and oils from the fly rug. Take care to not snag the fabric. This avoids the washing machine from getting clogged and resulting in a thorough clean.
Follow Manufacturer's Instructions:
Check the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some fly rugs can be machine-washed, while others may require hand washing.
Use Mild Detergent:
When washing, use a mild non- biological detergent or one specifically formulated for horsewear. Using harsh detergents could also lead to the horse or pony having skin reactions and may damage the fabric or reduce the effectiveness of insect-repelling treatments.
Close all straps and closures to prevent them from getting tangled during washing.
If machine washing it is recommended to wash individually or to use a wash bag. This will help prevent other items damaging the rug.
If using a washing machine, opt for a gentle cycle with cold water. This helps protect the integrity of the fabric and any special coatings on the fly rug.
Air dry the fly rug by hanging it in a shaded area; avoiding direct sunlight. Prolonged exposure can damage the fabric and reduce the effectiveness of UV-protective features. Ensure that the fly rug is completely dry before storage.
Regular inspection of a fly rug is vital to ensure that it remains in good condition, providing effective protection for the horse.
Check for Damage:
Regularly inspect the fly rug for any signs of wear, tear, or damage. Look for loose stitching, frayed edges, or damaged closures. Repair any issues promptly to maintain the integrity of the rug.
Clean Before Storage:
Before storing the fly rug, make sure it is clean and dry. Storing a dirty or damp rug can lead to mold and mildew.
Fold the fly rug neatly to prevent creases. Creases can weaken the fabric over time.
Store in a Cool, Dry Place:
Store the fly rug in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Avoid areas where rodents may cause damage.