Hay you ever been to a horse show or watched a competition and seen horses wearing funny little hats that covered their ears? These little hats are actually known as fly bonnets and the horses who wear them are usually wearing them for a very specific reason. But what do fly bonnets do for the horse and why do people use them?
What Is A Fly Bonnet?
A fly bonnet is a little hat that horses wear over their ears. These funny hats are most commonly seen being used under the horse’s bridle when they are being ridden. Mostly used in English riding, fly bonnets can actually look quite attractive on a horse. These bonnets serve three purposes. The first purpose is to protect the horse’s ears from those pesky flies that never seem to go away. This is actually where this piece of tack got its name. The next purpose is to shade the horse’s ears from the sun and prevent sunburn from injuring the horse’s ears. This is really useful for pinto, creme, or white horses as the pink skin they may have on their ears is really susceptible to sunburn. The last reason is to block out the wind, noise, or auditory distractions a horse might face when competing, schooling, or riding at another event.
Why Do Horses Wear Them?
Like I said above, there are three reasons a horse will wear a fly bonnet. These reasons are:
One might assume that, based on the name of this piece of tack, that it would in some way protect the horse against flies. This is true! Though fly bonnets don’t protect the horse’s eyes like a fly mask would, it at least covers the horse’s ears and prevents any flies from irritating the covered parts of the horse.
Some horses, like cremello, perlino, smokey creme, pinto, and albino horses, have pink skin on parts of if not all over their bodies. Having pink skin on the ears can be a really vulnerable thing, especially in the summer months when the hot sun is beating down on the horses. Having a fly bonnet on your horse offers them some extra sun protection and it shades the ears to prevent them from getting burned.
One of the main reasons why people put fly bonnets on their horses is to eliminate the issue of sound distractions. When competing at a horse show, some horses can get nervous when they hear a crowd cheering, hear a loud announcer, or hear the loud music that might be playing. Putting a fly bonnet on your horse can help to soften the noises that might spook or negatively affect the horse.
Some stores or online markets actually will sell soundproof or noise-canceling fly bonnets specifically for this reason. Having this fly bonnet on can keep a horse more focused on its rider or handler and make it less likely to become nervous or distracted from other noises.
Can Fly Bonnets Come In Any Color?
Absolutely! Fly bonnets can come in literally any color. I have seen fly bonnets come in:
- Neon Orange
- Neon Yellow
- Bright Yellow
- Mustard Yellow
- Lime Green
- Neon Green
- Hunter Green
- Literally any green you want
- Bright Teal
- Dark Teal
- Bright Blue
- Baby Blue
- Navy Blue
- Dusty Blue
- Dark Purple
- Bright Purple
- Brown of literally any shade
- and MORE!!!
Best Fly Bonnets On The Market
There are so many great fly bonnets out there, but only a few I would consider being the best. My 4 favorite fly bonnets for sale include:
I like this fly bonnet for a few reasons. The 4 main reasons I would buy this fly bonnet are:
- It protects the ears from the sun
- It protects the ears from flies
- The tassles help shoo flies away from the eyes
- It’s really cheap and affordable!
This style of fly bonnet doesn’t really help when it comes to noise-canceling, but if your horse is just needing some fly and sun protection, I would go with this style for fly bonnets!
This fly bonnet, though it is from the same brand, is a slight upgrade from the first fly bonne that I mentioned.
Though still made from a crochet material, incorporates some noise cancelation that the first fly bonnet does not have.
The things I like best about this fly bonnet include:
- The great appearance when on a horse
- The white corded stripe which adds a little bit more too the bonnet
- The neoprene, noise reducing material used to make the ears of the bonnet
- The sun protection offered by the ears
- The fly protection offered by the ears
- The affordable price
If you are looking for something a little bit cleaner looking in appearance but don’t want to spend too much money on a nicer fly bonnet, I would definitely go with this one. The price is set at a cheap enough rate to where it is affordable to pretty much anyone, but you are still getting a good quality bonnet with your purchase.
The Weatherbeeta Prime Ear Bonnet is actually probably one of my favorite bonnets on the market. Though it is a little bit more expensive than the previous fly bonnet I mentioned, it has a lot going for it.
If you feel that the Intrepid International Crochet Fly Veil is a little bit too messy in appearance with its fly tassels, this could be a potential option for you.
I like this fly bonnet for a few reasons:
- It looks awesome on the horse
- It protects the ears from the sun
- It protects the ears from flies
- It is still an affordable price
- breathable material
- It can come in a lot of different colors!
- It reduces some environmental noise to help your horse focus better
If your horse would benefit from some noise reduction and ear protection, this would probably be my go-to fly bonnet! This bonnet is still set at an affordable price but has all of the qualities you might need in a fly bonnet for general riding and competition.
This fly bonnet is a bonnet intended for high-performance use. these bonnets are often used by professional eventers, dressage riders, and showjumpers when competeing to keep their horse focused on the task at hand and not distracted by their environment.
This would be the optimum choice for a fly bonnet when it comes to keeping your horse on task and not distracted at all by its surroundings. The things that this bonnet has will include:
- Noise cancelling material (near-silence for the horse)
- breatheable material
- fly protection
- sun protection
- awesome appearance
I would recommend this style of fly bonnets to someone who has a horse who tends to get very nervous or distracted when being ridden.
How Do I Know If My Horse Would Benefit From Using A Fly Bonnet?
If you are riding in an arena where there are many other horses or a cheering crown or just a lot of commotion and your horse is struggling to pay attention to you, I would then try to use a fly bonnet on your horse. A fly bonnet keeps the horse from being distracted and reduces any loud or scary noises that normally would set your horse off.
I recommend using this on your horse if they are skittish, anxious, nervous, or easily distracted. If your horse is any of these things, I would try to use a fly bonnet and see if there is an improvement in their performance.