How to Keep Flies Off Horses Eyes – Top Fly Protection

Updated April 5, 2023

With horses, comes flies and the never-ending battle to protect them from bothersome, disease-borne, biting insects. In this article, we’ll give you recommendations for top fly protection products that’ll help you repel pesky flies and biting insects to keep your horse comfortable all summer long.

For a deep dive on the types of insects that might attack your horse and when, along with how to fight flies on every front, visit our guide on fly solutions for horses.

Why Do Flies Fly Around Horse’s Eyes?

Flies are attracted to moisture in your horse’s eyes. We all know flies in your horse’s face can be increasingly irritating for both you and your horse. Flies and insects can potentially be a health risk as they could carry diseases or cause summer sores near the corners of the horse’s eyes (also known as “fly sores”).

Fly masks are designed to protect your horse’s sensitive eyes, nose, and face from biting insects as well as harmful UV exposure. Your horse will be more comfortable during fly season with their face shielded from bugs, dust and debris, and allergens. While some owners may just put a fly mask on their horse for turnout, its also a handy option when riding (especially on the trails) or for protecting an injury on the face. Horses can wear fly masks all day and night, but they should be taken off at least once a day so you can clean your horse’s face and eyes.

Top Protective Wear for Your Horse’s Eyes and Face

There are many different types of fly masks that provide varying amounts of coverage, different materials and linings, and offer innovative designs.

When shopping for a fly mask, it’s important to consider your horse’s unique characteristics and lifestyle. Consider how sensitive or irritable they are towards bugs landing on them – if they twitch and stomp at any little fly, they may do best with a full coverage mask protecting the face, ears, and nose. For coverage, also consider if your horse has sensitive pink skin and could sunburn easily (typically on the muzzle and around the eyes). Plus, your horse may enjoy being rowdy in turnout or be part of a playful herd, in which case he will need a more durable fly mask.

Best Value

Grey horse wearing the SmartPak Classic Fly Mask

SmartPak Classic Fly Mask - Made from durable PVC mesh that holds its shape and keeps flies off your horse's sensitive face. The soft mesh ears provide extra protection from pests in sensitive areas and the fleece edging ensures a comfortable fit.

Most Comfortable Coverage

Pony wearing the SmartPak Comfort Fly Mask w SmartCore Technology

SmartPak Comfort Fly Mask w/ SmartCore Technology - SmartCore fabric is highly moisture-wicking and thermoregulatory to keep your horse cool, dry, and comfortable, plus it provides UPF 50 sun protection. Soft, fine mesh around the ears and eyes prevents even tiny bugs from getting to sensitive areas, allowing your horse to enjoy insect-free turnout and downtime. The fitted, stretchy design with forelock opening makes it super easy to slide on and off without the extra bulk of traditional masks.

Best Protection from Sun Exposure

Bay horse wearing the Kensington Uviator Catch fly mask

Kensington Uviator CatchMask - Constructed with Kensington's newest Superior UV Textilene, Solar Screen that has a 90% UV rating, this fly mask is one of the most protective ones on the market.

Ergonomic Fly Mask

Horse wearing the Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask w Ears

Shires Fine Mesh Fly Mask with Ears - Features airstream fabric ears and fleece padding along the seams. This fly mask’s ergonomic shaping with two Velcro straps helps keep the fly mask off the eyes and reduces gaps so no bugs can get inside.

Most Innovative Fly Mask

Horse wearing the Shires 3-D Mesh Fly Mask w Fringe Nose

Shires 3-D Mesh Fly Mask w/ Fringe Nose - With breathable 3D mesh, this fly actively circulates the air while protecting against bugs and flying insects. The innovative nose fringe deters flies from landing on the horse’s muzzle.

Most Spacious for Eyes

Horse wearing the Rambo® Plus Fly Mask

Rambo® Plus Fly Mask - Made from extremely durable textilene with soft polyester material on the ears and comfortable fleece edging. Improved design for optimum eye protection, detachable nose protection, large fitting soft ears, and adjustable closure to allow the horse to graze comfortably.

Top Fly Sprays for Horses

These tried-and-true insect repellents will help keep flies off your horse. Fly sprays[BL3] can be applied to a special mitt or towel and then wiped on your horse’s face for a safer alternative to spraying directly on the face or even spraying onto your hand and then applying.

Best Natural Fly Repellents

outsmart fly spray

OutSmart® Fly Spray – Formulated with plant-based ingredients, OutSmart repels house flies, stable flies, mosquitoes, and ticks. This fly spray’s fresh scent won’t have you holding your breath when spraying it! Plus, it’s designed for both horse and rider.

Equiderma™ Neem & Aloe Herbal Horse Spray – Another pleasant smelling fly repellent that’s safe for both horse and riders, this spray is made with natural essential oils chosen for their insect repelling properties.

Longest Lasting Fly Repellent

ultrashield fly spray

UltraShield EX Fly Spray – Ideal for the most challenging conditions, UltraShield EX kills and repels more than 70 species of biting and nuisance flies, mosquitoes, ticks, and gnats. This advanced formula contains multiple sunscreens and coat conditioners, plus it’s weatherproof for up to 17 days.

Most Sweat Resistant Fly Repellent

endure fly spray

Endure Sweat Resistant Fly Spray – Even in wet conditions, this spray stays on and keeps working. Plus, it includes sunscreen to protect against harmful UV rays.

Best Against Mosquitos

mosquito halt fly spray

Mosquito Halt – From mosquitos to gnats, flies, mites, chiggers, and lice, this fly spray kills and repels annoying insects. It’s active ingredients include Permethrin for quick knock-down action and residual control.

Ointments and Alternatives to Protect Your Horse’s Face

There are a wide variety of fly repellent forms available for use around the horse’s face or other sensitive areas. These include roll-ons, insecticide-impregnated towelettes, lotions or gels, and other forms. When using these as opposed to a spray bottle, you can be more precise in applying them to avoid getting anything in your horse’s eyes.

Best Ointment for Sensitive Areas

swat fly ointment

SWAT® Clear Fly Repellent Ointment – Ideal for use on sensitive, hard-to-reach areas, this clear formula repels house, stable, face, and horn flies. SWAT is a great addition to your equine first aid kit[BL4] too as it can be applied in areas around wounds, sores, scratches, and abrasions for protection. It’s effective for hours and can also be used on dogs!

Insect Combination Repellent

Equi-Spot Fly Control – Waterproof and sweatproof, Equi-Spot helps control house flies, deer flies, mosquitoes and black flies on horses. This insecticide is designed to be applied along the horses back from the pole to the base of the tail, the forehead under the forelock, and along the back of each leg from the knee or hock to the fetlocks.

Best Face Wipe

natures force fly wipes

Nature's Force® Face & Body Wipes – These gentle, easy-to-use wipes contains conditioners to promote a healthy coat while repelling flies and insects. Its botanical formula includes citronella, cedarwood, and rosemary oils.

If you’re unable to find a brand of fly mask that fits your horse well and stays on or an insect repellent that wards off all the bugs, don’t panic, there are other choices! Give our Customer Care Team a call and they’ll help you find an options that works for your individual horse and figure out a full plan to protect him from every angle – inside and out!

The products listed in this article were recommended by SmartPak’s team of riders and horse lovers across health and merchandising departments, considering customer reviews, product quality, and value.

The information provided in the Horsemanship Library is based solely on our SmartPak authors' opinions. SmartPak strongly encourages you to consult your veterinarian or equine professionals regarding specific questions about your horse's health, care, or training. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or behavior and is purely educational.