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Buying Guides Choosing a fly rug

Though we’re all jumping for joy when it comes to the summer months, the one thing that makes it less exciting is the prospect of a large abundance of flies! While in the field, it’s important that your horse has the right protection to stop him from being eaten alive and getting extremely irritated by flies.

Fly rugs are generally made from a fine mesh material, creating a barrier between the horse’s skin and the flies. Some fly rugs offer more protection than others, with some including a neck cover, tail and belly flap to offer further protection over your horse’s most sensitive areas. The finer the mesh of the rug, the more effective it will be at preventing your horse from being bitten.

If you are looking for a rug that includes some advanced technology to keep your horse extra protected, then there are plenty of variations available to choose from:

Pre-Coated Fly Rugs

A pre-coated fly rug is coated in a fly free rug spray that kills any insects on contact. This instant defence helps to reduce the spread of disease, as well as provide an extra line of defence against the invading threat of flies.


Sweet Itch Rugs

When it comes to Sweet Itch the best course of action is to give your horse as much protection as possible to limit the chance of your horse reacting to midge bites. Though a common skin allergy, a horse suffering from Sweet Itch can be made to suffer from severe itchiness if a midge bites them, as the protein in the midge’s saliva causes the horse’s immune system to overreact and attack its own cells. Therefore, it’s best to purchase a fly rug with a tight weave and hood to ensure that the horse’s most susceptible areas are well covered.


Waterproof Fly Rugs

Despite it being summer, it doesn’t mean that every day is going to be bright sunshine, more than likely there are going to be a few heavy showers along the way. Though slightly limited in their selection, waterproof fly rugs enable your horse to be protected from the flies as well as being less likely to be drenched from the rain. Many waterproof fly rugs come with breathable and detachable waterproof linings, meaning that you only have to attach the waterproof element when it’s raining, and then easily remove it once to weather decides to brighten up.

UV Protection Fly Rugs

Another thing to consider when buying a fly rug for the summer is if your horse is sensitive to sunrays. For some horses that have sensitive skin, the UV light from the sun can stimulate sunburn on the sensitive areas of the horse, resulting in discomfort, redness and peeling. As well as this, the sun’s light can also target horses with darker coat colours, causing their coat colour to become bleached. Fortunately, many fly rugs have been adapted to not only prevent your horse from getting bitten by flies, but also fitted with a special material that reflects the sun’s rays to help keep your horse cool and sunburn free.

Fly rugs are usually fitted in the exact same way that a normal stable rug would be fitted. Most rugs are measured in feet and inches, with the size difference being an increase of 3 inches each time. To measure your horse for a new rug yourself, use a soft tape measure to measure the length of your horse from the centre of his chest, along the side of his body, all the way to the rear of his quarters. However, you should always make sure to check the retailer’s guidelines or, better still, get their advice before buying a rug for your horse.

Once you’ve bought your fly rug, it’s important to maintain its quality. Many fly rug meshes are made out of 100% polyester, meaning that they can generally be washed like clothing. However, there are some suggestions that will help you to maintain the fly rug’s defensive properties. Washing the fly rug on a cold-water wash with a gentle spin cycle is the best way to go, since a hot cycle wash will more than likely damage the polypropylene binding, which then leads to a change of shape or shrink in size of the rug, as well as causing the binding of the rug to bunch up.

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Horse&Rider Magazine December 2020

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