One of our test horses at Squirrelwood Equine Sanctuary.When Fly Armor (www.flyarmor.net) told us about their new product, we were all ears. It’s a system of tags and straps that you can use in various locations on your horse, including the poll, browband area, noseband area, legs, and in the mane and/or tail. Download a PDF of this article.
The strap comes with an open area where you insert 2 to 4 scented pads, which contain the fly repellent. The straps are re-useable and washable. Once you purchase the straps, you can just buy additional inserts, which last up to a month, if worn constantly.
The products cost $15 to $30. The replacement inserts are 2 for $6.99.The pieces attach with Velcro to your horse’s halter or bridle.
If you turn your horse out without a halter, use a strap in the mane and another in the tail for full coverage. If you turn out in a halter, always use a breakaway halter (that goes whether you use Fly Armor or not!) and use a pollband.
During our month-long trials of the Fly Armor system in two locations, we found the Noseband X-tra Strength (4 inserts) and Browband (2 inserts) were the most useful for our horses in turnout and riding. The Pollband was also satisfactorily effective for riding and turnout.
Our results during cooler temperatures were negligible, as expected, but when it was hot and humid the effect was clearly visible. We saw a noticeable decrease in face flies, mosquitoes and gnats, although the effect didn’t seem to cover the entire horse as well. The biggest decrease in pest activity was clearly around the face, ears and eyes with the nosebands and browband.
We were told the head is the best place for full-body protection (if you can only choose one, the noseband is best). The vapors drift best from front to back on the horse. However, you can place them in multiple areas, if needed, such as when it’s cooler.
The inserts will hold up through rain, although that will decrease their life expectancy. You cannot bathe the horse while wearing them. Unlike fly sprays, these products are not affected by the horse’s sweating, which is a big plus for riding and for horses who sweat easily and are turned out, as the more the horse sweats, the more flies are attracted.
Our testers agreed that the inserts are extremely potent and oily—you can’t help but notice that when you open the inserts—and we were concerned about our horses becoming irritated. However, none showed any reactions to the product.
Although the directions state the product is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, the main ingredients are citronella oil and cedarwood oil—and both are potentially irritating. The scent alone caused our testers to decline using the human bands, which are made to go on your helmet.
We recommend the use of gloves when handling the inserts. And, although we had no problems, we’d be cautious using these products on sensitive people or horses, especially when the strips are fresh.
We were concerned that the inserts would fall out of the sleeves, and early in our testing, we did have the poll strips slide out a bit. However, we never lost one. (Since then, the manufacturer has improved the system to decrease the likelihood of the strips sliding out.)
We did note that the Browband isn’t that long. If your horse has a very broad forehead, it may not fit. We’d like to see the options of Warmblood/Draft, pony and mini sizes, as well as the current average horse sizes available.
We like that Fly Armor decreases fly spray use, especially around the horse’s face. And the system is more efficient than fly spray and less expensive in the long run. Tying a band into the horse’s forelock/upper mane and leaving it there for up to a month is faster than fly masks on and off every day. It’s also a viable choice for riders who don’t like to use riding fly masks.
Fly Armor does best in fairly consistent warm temperatures. It reminds us of a citronella candle. The scent isn’t as strong until you light it. The manufacturer said higher temperatures “volitilizes” the oil faster, increasing the vapor.
Overall, we were pleased with the product. It was easy to use, worked well, and you can use Fly Armor with fly masks and/or fly sheets or on its own.
Article by Contributing Writer Beth Hyman.