Fly control is an important aspect of any livestock operation and a seemingly uphill battle for horse owners. One method to provide horses comfort from pesky insects is the use of fly sheets. We’ve compiled a list of the best fly sheets for horses on the market to help make this purchase a little easier.
Fly Control- How to Choose The Best Fly Sheets for Horses
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Fly control is important for several reasons. Flies can be managed through pasture control, barn control, and even direct spray. You can see our favorite fly sprays here. Flies not only irritate your horses, but biting varieties are a risk for spreading disease. Many horses also have allergies and suffer greatly from biting insects. Sheets can be an excellent and economical way to combat bugs! Like winter blankets, even fly sheets can be used full time but should be removed and adjusted regularly.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but fly sheets vary in coverage. Most horses will happily flaunt a standard cut sheet, while others will need more coverage. For example, a horse that suffers from sweet-itch or has known insect allergies may require a belly band (separate or attached), additional fly boots, or a neck attachment. Light horses with pink skin may also need additional UV protection, which is something not all mesh fly sheets are going to offer. When using for UV protection, it is important to include a tail flap to help cover sensitive butt cheeks with sparse hair. Higher coverage sheets are sometimes accompanied by extra lining to help guard areas prone to rubbing from constant wear.
Is your horse a shredder, or the type that loves their “clothing”? This can make a huge difference in purchase selection. Although fly sheets do not have the same durability ratings as winter blankets due to the mesh materials, there are several factors that affect longevity. Some are made with hardy stainless-steel hardware, while others may have lightweight aluminum buckles. Others may boast sturdy Velcro. It’s helpful to know your horse’s blanket habits before purchasing a sheet. If you have one that’s hard on blankets, we recommend looking for sturdy hardware and a manufacturer’s warranty. Fly sheets that are ill-fitted or do not match your horse’s curvature are also prone to tearing once shifted.
Sometimes your budget will dictate what type of sheet you own. For some horse owners, it is easier to opt for an economy brand and purchase a new sheet annually. Others will make a one-time purchase and have a sheet last 3-5+ years depending on wear and tear. Unlike other products, spending more does not guarantee longevity. It may guarantee the quality, but durability comes from the material and hardware used. There are plenty of economy fly sheets that have seen 5+ fly seasons!
Top 7 Picks For Best Fly Sheets For Horses
The other horses might laugh, but this is some serious fly control.
The zebra pattern isn’t just the latest in pasture fashion- this is an actual true print of zebra stripes, which polarizes light and discourages flies from even landing on a horse. It offers 80% UV protection and has an incredibly strong (yet lightweight) high tensile mesh. It uses magnetic snap locks, t-lock closures, and includes a full neck and detachable belly band. This is our number one pick! The Bucas Buzz-Off collection is top-rated by horse owners internationally.
- UV protection
- Extreme durability
- Strong hardware
- Additional protection from the pattern
- May look obnoxious to some horse owners
- More expensive than most
High end with an incredible fit: Kensington is known for its luxury fly products. This sheet has a 73% UV rating and comes in multiple patterns and colors. It has sturdy hardware in the front for a very adjustable chest-fit, and tear-resistant fabric. The designs are known to stay vibrant year-round, and best of all: Kensington products are backed by their lifetime guarantee. If you have a horse hard on turnouts, Kensington is our recommendation for product strength. You’ll love the variety of stylish plaids; Kensington makes something sure to please everyone.
- Easily adjustable
- Strong fabric
- UV protection
- Does not include a belly band or neckpiece
Ultimate comfort for your horse: Weatherbeeta outdoes themselves each year with their spring fly collection launches. The Comfitec II Airflow is no exception. Available in a multitude of sizes, this is one of the softest fly sheets available. The Comfitec is a preferred product for horses that tend to sweat under fly sheets, and aids in cooling. It has an elastic and adjustable belly band for more coverage and a full tail wrap with side gussets. It has a minimum rating of 70% UV coverage. With its exceptional cooling ability and UV coverage, this is a top pick for dark horses subject to sun bleaching and sweating.
- Keeps horses cool
- UV protection
- Extremely comfortable
- Good size variety
- Not the most durable fabric
- Weaker hardware
Top pick for durable economy fly sheets: Centaur is known for delivering excellent products at an amazing price. This polyester SoftMesh Coolwick fabric gives Weatherbeeta a run for their money in terms of soft comfort. It uses surcingle t-lock closures, has a tail cord, and rings for leg straps (optional). It has 70% UV protection shoulder shields to prevent rubbing. The durability for the price is second to none! It’s available in a baby blue and light pink and maintains its silky-smooth feel even after high usage and washing.
- UV protection
- Shoulder shields
- No additional warranties (aside from manufacturer defect)
- Not ergonomically fitted
- Weaker hardware than sister-brands
Favorite for fit and technology: Amigo sheets and blankets never disappoint. This is a great combination of soft comfort and strength and features a shoulder and mane lining. This is a fuller coverage option with a belly flap and neckpiece. The material has sun reflecting properties to help keep your horse cool. The unique color choice (aqua and orange) help deter insects, as many bugs cannot perceive these colors. This adds an additional layer of production without the use of harsh chemicals or extra hot fabric.
- High tech fabric
- Color choice aids in protection
- Great fit
- Soft for comfort
- Only available in one color
- Full coverage option only
Favorite for the itchy horse: This is a high-coverage combo sheet for horses extremely sensitive to biting insects or prone to sweet itch. It’s made of a 600 denier ripstop fabric and mesh for long-lasting and lightweight performance. It has a stretch ear panel, neckpiece, and full belly band. Because of the higher coverage nature, it also includes lining on the neck, chest, and shoulders for added comfort. It’s largely adjustable for a customized fit. However, due to the material used, this fly sheet can get warm in hotter climates.
- Full coverage
- Adjustable fit
- Only one color available
- Limited sizes
- Can get warm
Comfort and durability at a moderate price: This is a comfortable and soft mesh blanket with sturdy hardware, including shoulder gussets and an adjustable belly wrap. As a higher coverage fly sheet, the light reflective color look keeps horses cool and comfortable. There are multiple colors, and fun seasonal prints release every spring. However, the fine mesh is weaker than competitors’. This is not an ideal choice for extremely itchy horses prone to “hard rubbing”, or those tough on turnouts.
- Color Options
- The neck is not detachable
- Weak fabric
Honorable Mention: Cashel Quiet Ride Belly Guard
This product was created to protect your horse’s underside from biting flies during rides. However, many owners opt to utilize just the belly band for horses that develop sores from insect bites on their bellies. Some owners have said they love their current flysheet but needed additional belly protection.
It can be worn alone or under the saddle. The velcro elastics offer some degree of safety in case a strap becomes hung, but it is recommended for use only under saddle or a stable setting. Once a horse develops an underside sore, it can be difficult to keep bugs off the area. This sensitive spot tends to re-open frequently, acting as an invitation for biting flies.
Do you use a fly sheet on your horses? What are they currently wearing?
Budget aside, your horse’s actions in the flysheet can determine what would be the best fly sheet choice for him/her. Fly sheets can be a hassle to deal with every morning, but sometimes horses need additional effort for optimal care and comfort. Keep in mind, most owners accompany fly sheets with fly masks for facial and eye protection. Most of the products listed above have coordinating masks for the sheets. Although aesthetically pleasing, this can be helpful for sensitive horses that need masks hooked up to neck covers.
Have friends with horses? Be sure to like and share this article before they purchase their next fly sheet!
How do you wash a horse fly sheet?
You should never use hot water for washing your horse fly sheets as it will damage the fiber and make it weaker. Use cool water and mild detergent. If you wash them in a washing machine, wash them at low temperature (30 degrees Celsius), and on a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the material.
If your horse fly sheets are especially dirty, you might want to soak them in a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water for 30 minutes. This process helps remove dirt and grime and also helps keep the insects away from your horse's body.
Do fly rugs keep horses cool?
Obviously, the horse can get very hot. Horses are warm-blooded animals that need to be kept in a comfortable temperature. They are equipped with sweat glands and their sweat evaporates through the skin. Horses are covered in hair and have large surface areas of skin exposed to the elements. As the weather gets warmer, horses will become more active and start to perspire. This causes their body temperature to rise, causing them to pant, breathe heavily and become less comfortable. Fly rugs can be used to keep your horse cool. Fly rugs are available in many different designs, sizes and colours. They provide a layer of protection for your horse's body. The material is breathable and keeps the horse cool, which is ideal for summer riding.
How do I know what size fly sheet to get my horse?
Fly sheets come in various sizes. The most common sizes are 12 inch by 12 inch and 18 inch by 18 inch. These sizes are recommended for horses who weigh more than 800 pounds. If your horse is lighter, you may need to purchase a smaller fly sheet.
To determine what size fly sheet you need for your horse, measure the length of your horse's body from the center of his chest to the end of his tail. Make sure to measure along the widest part of their shoulder and hindquarters. The measure you get in this way is your horse's size and the fly sheet should be big enough to fit your horse properly.
When purchasing a fly sheet, make sure it is made from durable, weather-proof material. Your horse should be able to stand up to the elements, as well as be comfortable. It should also be easy to fold.
Are fly sheets good for horses?
When used properly, they are a great product for your horse. The main purpose of a fly sheet is to provide protection from insects that may cause disease.
The most common fly sheet type is called "interlocking" or "interlock". The interlocking fly sheet has a layer of soft fiberglass mesh on top of the mesh fabric. The interlocking fly sheet is soft and provides excellent sun protection. The interlocking fly sheet also provides protection from the elements, and keeps flies from getting into the fly netting. Insects will not get through the soft interlocking mesh. It is a very soft material that does not tear easily. The mesh is water-resistant and water is not absorbed into the mesh fabric.