For years, I had always owned a few hardy crossbreed horses or mustangs. So when I purchased my first thin-skinned thoroughbred filly, I had to step up my game and dive into the world of fly sheets for horses.
Far from being like a simple fly mask, a fly sheet has some very particular requirements to ensure it offers your horse the best protection against flies and other elements that may burn or sting their skin.
So in this article, we’ll talk about what to look for in the best fly sheets for horses, and then give you our recommended brands!
(Oh and by the way, if you’re looking for advice on other types of horse blankets, check out this article.)
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you. We only give honest recommendations.
What Is a Fly Sheet?
A fly sheet is a thin blanket that covers the horse, protecting them against flies, mosquitoes, and other flying insects that may irritate their skin. Fly sheets protect horses from insect bites that can cause painful sores and itchy skin, resulting in rubbing and eventually hair loss.
Some fly sheets also double as a day sheet, protecting the horse from UV exposure that can lead to their coats bleaching and dulling or a sarcoid forming. There are many different types of fly sheets for horses, and each offers its own unique properties that may make it more or less suitable for your horse’s particular needs.
When to Use a Fly Sheet
Fly sheets are ideal for when your horse is exposed to large swarms of biting insects. Fitting a fly mask and fly sheet helps protect your horse’s body, face, and legs from insects landing on exposed body parts.
Summer is one of the main times of the year when fly sheets are appropriate to use to keep biting insects from your horse. Fly sheets should be fitted correctly when the horse is turned out in the paddock during the day or is in an area where there is hot sun. Horses can also wear fly sheets at night when insects swarm.
Shopping for a Fly Sheet: What You Should Know
There are many different fly sheets available for horses. Some are heavy duty for those harsh fly-seasons when insect biting is at the maximum. Other sheets are more lightweight and geared toward comfort and UV protection.
The shape, design, and fastenings all determine whether a fly sheet will be suitable for your horse. Here are a few aspects to keep in mind when choosing your horse’s fly sheet:
No horse will tolerate a blanket of any kind when that blanket or sheet fits uncomfortably. Ensure the fly sheet will fit with the same dimensions as a regular stable blanket. You should be able to slide a finger between the neckpiece and the horse’s shoulders. Check that the neck cover doesn’t slide down or bulge.
The belly band, if the fly sheet has one, should fit comfortably and attach securely with Velcro fasteners or cross-over straps to ensure the sheet doesn’t slip around the horse’s barrel.
A well-fitting fly sheet should have a traditional side gusset on each side or a set of shoulder gussets, with a tail flap to ensure natural movement. Taking the horse’s measurements accurately is important when ordering online.
When choosing the best fly sheets for horses, it is important to choose a material that is durable and breathable.
Horses have somewhat sensitive skin, so a scratchy fly sheet will not be comfortable for them. A soft interlocking mesh is best for a fly sheet, but you also want a durable sheet that won’t rip easily or hook on fences.
The density of the fly sheet will determine how much UV protection a fly sheet offers to your horse. Bug bites are not the only thing to protect your horse from, as high heat and harsh sunlight can cause fading and burnt pink skin.
With a quality fly sheet, you can stop the sun bleaching your horse’s coat, which is essential for most horses, but especially for black horses.
Many horses spends their whole day out in the sun. If there is little to no shade, having a sheet with a high sun protection factor is vital to keep your horse safe in hot weather. Extra protection can be achieved with a neck cover and fly mask combination. Neck protection will also stop their mane from becoming brittle or rubbing through fences.
A breathable fly sheet will also keep your horse cool, and when the weather is milder, you can remove the detachable neck cover. For cool weather, you can use a fly rug (which is heavier than a regular sheet) to keep your horse warmer if they have been clipped.
There is even the option of using a zebra pattern on your fly sheet to keep pesky insects away. The theory is that insects don’t like high-contrast material, such as bright prints, so this may add an extra layer of repelling power.
In order for it to properly defend against bugs, you’ll want to make sure your horse’s fly sheet fits properly. To learn how to properly measure your horse for a fly sheet, check out this guide.
Best Fly Sheets for Horses Options
With so many great fly sheets available, it can be challenging to choose the best ones for your horse. Here are some of my favorite choices:
Most Durable Fly Sheet: WB ComFiTec Ripshield Plus DetachNeck
The WB ComFiTec Ripshield Plus DetachNeck from WeatherBeeta is a highly durable fly sheet that suits most horses. It comes with rave reviews, and when I tried it on my horse, I was instantly sold.
- Manufactured from 1200 Denier ripstop polyester mesh that is soft and durable
- Fussy horses easily accept the set, but you can also remove the neck cover and belly band for extra versatility
- A flexible insert in the neck combines with the shoulder gussets for greater freedom of movement
- Nylon lining for mane, shoulders, and tail flap to provide extra strength and durability
- Polyester leg straps that can be removed
- Not as flexible if horses roll in their pasture
- Limited UV protection
I really like this fly sheet set, and every part of it fits my horse comfortably. I would have liked a little more UV protection, but we can’t have everything (or can we?).
Buy on Horse.com | Buy on Amazon
Best Fly Sheet for Hot Weather: Shires Highlander Fine Mesh Fly Sheet Set
At the height of summer, your horse will appreciate a fly sheet that doesn’t turn into a sweat sheet! That’s where the Shires Highlander Fine Mesh Fly Sheet Set impressed me most.
Made from high-quality mesh with nylon lining for the chest and tail flap (to prevent rubbing), this is also a very breathable fly sheet.
- Twin chest straps for added security
- Triple belly band straps
- Halter straps (though the neck cover stays on fine without a halter too)
- And did I mention that it’s really breathable?
- While the white color is great for warm weather, it’s not going to stay white in a muddy pasture
In hot weather, your horse will enjoy this fly sheet. And while it’s mostly designed to keep air circulation at a premium, it does offer some UV protection. You can match this set with some Shires Air Flow Fly Boots, too.
Buy on Horse.com | Buy on Amazon
Greatest UV Protection Fly Sheet: Kensington Platinum Protect Fly Sheet
For pink ponies and dark-coated horses prone to color fade, the Kensington Platinum Protect Fly Sheet is ideal. With great UV protection, you also get a really comfortable insect-repelling sheet to protect your horse.
- Prevents insect bites and UV damage
- Cool in summer due to zero heat transfer
- Mesh fly sheet also grooms coat
- Fire and mold resistant
- Aids in wound healing by keeping flies out of open wounds
- Made from 1,000 x 2,000 Denier Textilene® Mesh for comfort and strength
- Quick clip fasteners ensure easy and fast fitment
- Nylon lining on chest and withers for extra strength
- Wither padding protects the mane from rubbing and increases comfort
- In the higher price range
My horse loves this fly sheet, and it almost seems like they enjoy being all fashionable. I opted for the full set of neck cover, leg wraps, and fly mask, but it does get expensive when your herd consists of more than one horse.
Buy on Horse.com | Buy on Amazon
Full Poly Cotton Day Sheet with Fly Protection: Kool Coat Airstream Detach-A-Neck Fly Sheet
The Kool Coat Airstream Detach-A-Neck Fly Sheet offers the best of all worlds it seems.
- Upper polycotton fabric offers 90% UV protection
- Great protection against insect bites with the solid sheet
- Made from 270 grams of polycotton
- Sides are breathable mesh panels for air circulation
- Hidden surcingle fitment
- Shoulder gussets for freedom of movement
- The polycotton isn’t as rip-proof as other mesh fabrics are
- Can be warm for some horses as the top is solid polycotton, which is heavier than other fly sheets
My horses do really well in this fly sheet, even in the middle of summer. The quality fabric is durable, despite not being ripstop. It also washes easily.
Buy at Stateline Tack | Buy on Amazon
Most Lightweight Sheet for Daily Wear: WeatherBeeta Essential Mesh Combo Neck
When your horse requires daily fly protection, you want them to be super comfortable and enjoy a soft mesh experience. The WeatherBeeta Essential Mesh Combo Neck is ideally shaped and manufactured to offer great use every day (and night in those humid areas where insects swarm at dusk).
- Webbed polyester mesh to keep insects at bay
- 65% UV protection
- Acrylic coating on nylon at chest, shoulders, and tail sections for extra strength
- Twin front buckles and side gussets
- Elastic leg straps that allow freedom to roll
- Available in various colors and patterns to liven up the pasture
- Some slippage due to the neck line being too big
- Light colors stain easily
The soft feel of the mesh is a treat, and I can imagine my horses being cool and comfortable in the WeatherBeeta sheets. An added plus is the great budget point of this daily-use fly sheet.
Buy on Horse.com | Buy on Amazon
Best Printed Fly Sheet: Loveson Zebra Fly Rug
While I’ve always wanted to own a zebra, I never imagined that there was such a thing as a zebra pattern fly sheet. The reason is far from wanting your horse to turn into Racing Stripes. Instead, the high contrast of the black and white lines confuses flying insects.
The Loveson Zebra Fly Rug is exactly what you’re looking for if you want to scare off some of those bugs that want to torment your horse so much.
- Made from lightweight polyester to be breathable and cool
- Designed with shoulder gussets to allow free movement and rolling
- Oversize belly flap to keep insects off sensitive horses’ stomachs
- Shoulders and mane lining prevent pressure points and rubbing
- Oversize tail flap helps keep insects off your horse’s vulnerable tail area
- The sheet is somewhat oversized and can bunch up
Not only is this fly sheet really cute, but it also keeps your horse safe from pesky insects. I enjoy seeing my horses play around in the zebra print, but it took some getting used to for the other horses who didn’t know what to make of their herd mate!
Buy on Horse.com | Buy on Amazon
More FAQs About Horse Fly Sheets
What is the coolest fly sheet for horses?
A fine mesh fly sheet such as the Shires Highlander Fine Mesh Fly Sheet is best for warm weather as the mesh allows more airflow while still keeping bugs off your horse. Highly synthetic material that clings or scratches your horse won’t be cool for them and can lead to excess sweating and rubbing on pressure points.
Are horse fly sheets worth it?
Since horses can suffer severe allergic reactions to insect bites, it is beneficial for the horse to keep them free of insects that can bite them and burrow into their skin. An itchy horse will scratch, which can lead to hair loss, costly vet bills, and tissue damage that can result in scars.
Considering that not all horses respond well to fly spray, it is beneficial to rather fit a fly sheet to keep your horse protected. Fly spray may also be more expensive than the cost of a quality durable sheet in the long run.
Do horses like fly sheets?
In nature, horses roll in mud to create a protective coating on their skins, so they do understand that a fly sheet is there to protect them. A horse may come to love their fly sheet if it is comfortable and fits correctly. But if a fly sheet fits poorly and heats them up, your horse won’t like their fly sheet—so make sure you get the right size!
Do fly sheets offer UV protection?
Any covering that minimizes sun exposure can offer some UV protection. Some fly sheets for horses offer as much as 90% UV protection, which is better than human sunscreen. A fly sheet can minimize sun bleaching of your horse, and your horse will be less hot in excessive heat too.
The Final Verdict on Fly Sheets for Horses
I am hooked on great fly sheets for my horses. Not only are they protected from UV damage and flystrike, but my horses really appreciate the cooler feeling in the middle of a hot summer.
Whichever fly sheet you choose, ensure it fits your horse well, is cool, and protects them from painful insect bites.
If you want to learn more about winter blankets, read Martina’s great article on WeatherBeeta blankets.