Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
Summer is (finally) almost here. And while I always enjoy the sunny warm weather, the presence of flies and biting insects around the barn come with the territory. Here at my barn, we still turn the horses out all day long; and they seem to prefer it that way. The ‘boys’ have plenty of shade to keep out of the sun if they wish, but the only thing that really seems to irritate them is the constant nuisance of flies.
One of my youngsters, Rufus, is particularly sensitive to bites, and the poor fella tends to break out with bumps and hives this time of year. Roo’s sensitive skin means that a fly sheet is absolutely an essential for him during warm weather daytime turnout. And this season, I’ve had the chance to outfit him in a Sweet-Itch Combo Fly Sheet from Shire’s. Since Roo is so prone to breakouts of bumps and hives, I was really interested to see how he fared wearing this particular sheet.
The Sweet-Itch Combo Fly Sheet offers, in my opinion, what is perhaps the most amount of coverage that I’ve seen in a fly sheet. It covers the body, and also features additional protection in the form of a generously sized tail flap, a belly guard, and an ample neck cover that extends up over the ears by way of a stretchy panel. The sheet also features a polyester outer shell that is meant to help make the sheet both lightweight and highly breathable. And the outer shell is also made of a 600 denier ripstop fabric, in order to provide more durability against turnout hijinks.
The fabric is also light in color, in order to promote keeping it’s wearer cool in the sun, and it even has been designed to help shine the coat. Back to the neck — the neck cover of the Sweet-Itch Fly Sheet offers full coverage, and has four Velcro closure tabs to keep it securely fastened. Plus, there is an additional Velcro closure that secures under the throatlatch area, once the stretch panel is pulled up over the ears. The stretch panel is super lightweight, and has two holes for ears to pass through.
Since Roo is a horse whose broad shoulders are prone to rubs, I was also glad that the Sweet-Itch fly sheet features anti-rub lining in the neck, chest and shoulders. Keeping with the concept of full coverage, the sheet also features a belly wrap, which is secured using three adjustable surcingle straps. And the sheet also features a large tail flap, shoulder gussets, pull tab chest closures, and a filet strap that secures under the tail.
When I went to put Sweet-Itch Fly Sheet on Roo for the first time, in the back of my mind, I wondered how long the task would take with all of the straps and buckles fastened. I ended up being very pleasantly surprised that putting the sheet on (and taking it off) goes pretty quickly for me. Much more quickly then I anticipated, in fact…which is important to me, because I like efficiency.
The Velcro tabs on the neck easy to pull through and stick in place…and through repeated use, I have not found any decrease in the stickiness. And I find that since the belly wrap has the surcingle straps attached, it actually makes it easier for me to grab the wrap and fasten the buckles, rather than having to lean under Roo’s belly to go fishing for dangling straps.
I’ve been really pleased with how the Sweet-Itch Fly Sheet fits Roo. Even though Roo has broad shoulders, and has a body type that I can only describe as ‘chunky’ (in the most affectionate way possible, of course), the sheet fits his shape nicely. And I’m happy to report that Roo has not experienced any of his usual shoulder rubs while wearing the sheet.
From my perspective, the sheet has also held up nicely during turnout. Roo is a (very) active youngster, who likes to run, buck, roll, flail, and get into sheet tugging matches with his “brother” Mark. Through all of the antics that go on out in the pasture, the sheet stays in place without sliding all around. And the outer shell has stayed in great shape with no rips or tears, even after Mark grabs it. Repeatedly.
Finally, I was a little concerned about Roo potentially overheating while wearing a sheet with more coverage. Even during warm days in the 80’s, when I go to take the sheet off at the end of the day, Roo does not feel sweaty or overheated. The combination of the highly breathable fabric and the light color of the fabric seem to keep him from overheating.
Of course, he has gotten some grass and dirt spots on the sheet…but the sheet still looks oh-so adorable on Roo, and the spots are not noticeable when I see him out in the field. And dirt spots really are just an inevitability for turnout sheets or blankets. What really matters to me is that I can watch Roo swishing and stomping less in the field, because flies have to work harder to find exposed skin.
The Sweet-Itch Combo Fly Sheet is available in sizes 69”-84” (in 3” increments), and has a retail price of $129.99, and you can find it here.
Go Full Coverage Fly Protection. Go Shire’s Equestrian. Go Eventing.