Even though it’s November, there are still a fair amount of annoying bugs in Virginia, and almost all of the horses are on day turnout, which means the sensitive types are still sporting their fly gear. I had the opportunity to try out some of the new Professional’s Choice Fly Gear on a warm fall day and was delighted to find that I quite liked the package of four items as an outfit.
Starting with the Fly Sheet, I should note that it is one of the most lightweight fly sheets I have ever held in my hands, and when I put it on the horse it was just like air. This is great, of course, as using them on horses when it’s over 80 degrees can result in some sweaty horses, which is unsanitary and unpleasant for the horse. You can see in the pictures how light the fly sheet it is, as it’s basically translucent, but it also boasts a polyester rip-stop technology that makes the mesh extremely tough and durable.
I was using a slight 15.2 hand Thoroughbred mare as my model, and she is wearing a 76 blanket, but you can see where it would happily host a slightly chunkier built horse through the shoulders and the hindquarters. This mare has really sensitive and finicky skin, and even though it was a little loose around her neckline, I was happy to see that the fabric is really soft inside and has a nylon lining on the chest to prevent rubs as well as fleece at the withers so you don’t get an unsightly bald patch in the mane.
The blanket has removable surcingle clips over the belly as well as leg straps, which means you can easily take them off to clean or adjust. It also has a generous shoulder shoulder gusset so that when your horse is tearing around the field (as this mare did when I turned her out!) they have the freedom to do all sorts of athletic maneuvers without feeling constricted or garnering any shoulder rubs.
Of course you’ll have to get the accompanying Neck Cover to go with the Fly Sheet, which attaches by way of clips around the base to the shoulder of the fly sheet. There is plenty of coverage and overlap between the two, so that when your horse reaches down to graze, there isn’t a strange gap between the blanket and the neck cover, nor does the neck cover pull back and reveal a good section of the horse’s upper neck.
While you’ve got the Fly Sheet and Neck Cover, you’ll probably want to go ahead and get the matching Fly Mask with Ears. This part of the outfit I really liked, because I’m somewhat of a fly mask connoisseur at this point, and I’m pretty picky. Made to match the sheet, it has the same tough wearing material but sports an incredibly soft mesh area around the top of the head and the ears. This soft, flexible and breathable area around the ears is great, as it doesn’t cause sweaty ears, but also it stops any weird rubs that could happen.
The Fly Mask also has strategically placed darts that keep the mask off the eyes with no obstruction of vision, as well as a hook and loop closure with really sturdy velcro under the jaw that keeps it in place for those horses that try to incessantly rub the mask off. Ahem, I know a few of these.
If you’ve got a real picky princess on your hands who can’t even stand flies touching his or her legs, Professional’s Choice has some great Fly Boots to really cover every inch. The boots are like all of the other pieces in that they are incredibly lightweight, but they are fully lined with fleece so even the silliest skin will not get chafed by wearing these for a few hours in the paddock.
The boots come in a pack of four and are contoured appropriately for front and hind legs, along with nylon binding and reinforced webbing that goes down the back to prevent the boot from sliding down the leg. Each boot has three adjustable hook and loop velcro straps for maximum customization.
I was interested to see if the fly boots held their position as I turned this horse out, and she proceeded to tear around the field for several minutes, leaping and bucking and rearing and striking. I went to check on her legs after a while, and not only were all the boots in a secure position, but her legs were not hot underneath either.
A great thing about any product from Professional’s Choice is that it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can be assured of the quality and fit of each product. The Fly Sheet retails for $123.95, the Neck Cover for $40.95, the Fly Mask with Ears for $22.95 and the set of four Fly Boots for $40.95. You can find all of these products online through Professional’s Choice or in a variety of retailers across the country.