Summer often proves to be that time of year when we horse people start noticing the abundance of flies! It is not uncommon for horses to wear fly sheets and fly masks, but have you ever seen horses turned out in fly boots? Fly boots are often an overlooked alternative when you compare them to routinely used fly masks and fly sheets. They can be ideal for sensitive horses or those living in environments that host an abnormally large number of flies.
Many species of flies and biting insects take advantage of equine legs, causing anxiety and distress. The lower legs area is very susceptible to nasty bites as they are not overly fleshy and once blood is drawn it is very difficult to stop biting insects from attacking this area. The result is often pacing and stomping, which can lead to hoof cracks, loose shoes, tendon issues and joint problems, or for some horse’s results may even include allergic reactions.
In summer, some horses may also result to digging large holes or damaging paddocks and stables in their frustration surrounding flies and insects targeting their legs. Fly boots can help limit stomping related to insects attacking the lower leg and therefore also alleviate the array of health and environmental issues that result from the stomping.
Fly boots are generally designed to be lightweight, comfortable mesh, typically offering coverage from the knee to the cornet band. It is important to use a brand that is well fitted to your horse, that will not slip as easily down the leg and that allows air to circulate while protecting the area. The boots should sit below the knee, to avoid interfering with movement, while clearing the ground on the bottom. Shaped boots might help minimise loss, but regardless of the style, adjust them with leg movement in mind.
Depending on the brand, fly boots are available in two and four packs and come in an array of brands including: Kensington Products Fleece Lined Fly Boots, Shires Airflow Turnout Sock, Shoo Fly Leggins for Horses, Cashel Crusader Fly Boots for Horses, TuffRider Mesh Wrap, Horseware Ireland Amigo Flyboots, Weatherbeeta Insect Shield Mesh Wrap, and Professional’s Choice Fly Boots.
If you are considering using fly boots, it is best to put them on your horse before the flies start to bite the legs to avoid them drawing blood which will act as an attractant to other flies and insects. They are a relatively easy to use product and fly boot care is usually rather simple involving just hosing the dirt off them or putting them in the washing machine.