Do you know how some people are always trying to find the perfect pair of jeans? Ones that don’t have a gap in the back but allow ample thigh room? Or that are long enough not to be considered floods but not too long that they bunch weird? Or how about finding the perfect pair that aren’t low rise nor mom jeans? Yeah, then you might have an inkling of just how difficult fit is to find properly fitted fly masks.
As you might imagine, it’s impossible to bring all the critters with me for a trip to the feed store, take them into the fitting room, and try on the different masks. Besides, our two local feed stores only carry limited sizes…generally cob, horse, and warmblood. All of which are far too large for our equines. On the rare occasion they have a pony or weanling mask hanging around I’ll buy it and take it home only to be disappointed in the fit. This buying, taking home, and trying on was made worse when, for about a year, these same feed stores stopped accepting returns on equine items (like brushes, halters, and fly masks). I’ve had to sell some of these flops on Facebook Marketplace to try to recoup my money.
I’ve also made many attempts through online stores, both directly from the fly mask manufacturer and Amazon, with mixed success. For years I’ve settled on fly masks from Kensington for Maggie, our miniature horse. It fits fairly well but even though I get the smallest size I still have issues with the velcro strap being too loose on her. I make it work by folding the strap and trying to secure it as best I can but she can often manage to get it off. They come in cute colors (if you can find them in stock) but I found I’m not that crazy about that because I feel it hinders her vision more than a solid grey or black mask. It worked but I was still on the hunt for something better.
I’ve never found a mask to fit Hank, who I call a burro or mini-donkey. But he’s not like many of the burros and mini-donks I see at the annual Burrofest in nearby Mancos. Those burros have petite heads, almost horse-like, but with long ears. Hank’s head is…er, clunky. He’s your typical grey desert donkey with the dorsal stripe and large, wide head. Most masks pinch his ears or touch his eyeballs or are plain huge on him. Likewise, Margarita, a standard size donkey, has been difficult to fit.
Last year I ordered custom made fly masks for both Hank and Margarita. I sent in their measurements to be sure they would fit. I waited for them to be handmade and then shipped. They were so cute! Margarita’s had bees on the fleece trim and Hanks was red, white, and blue.
They didn’t fit. At all.
In the meantime the flies were eating their eyeballs. Okay, not literally but they were annoying them so much that Hank had scratched the delicate skin around his eyes and drew blood…which attracted even more flies. They both had non-stop tears running down their muzzles. Fly sprays and ointments only go so far.
I ordered several more fly masks to try and found one that fit Margarita well enough to keep. It’s made by Shires and has a fine black mesh so she can see better (important for a donkey who thinks she’s the pasture guardian). My only issue is that the velcro closure is too large. I’ve solved this by crossing them to eliminate the gap that would otherwise be there (letting flies in). I like that the mesh over her face is stiff and wide so there’s absolutely no contact with her eyeballs. So far, it’s a win despite the too long of straps.
But the most exciting find by far has been a fly mask that fits Hank perfectly. (I bet you didn’t know fly masks could be considered exciting, did you)? Out of pure luck I found a Cashel weanling/small pony sized fly mask at Big R one day when I was picking up feed. I’ve had luck with other Cashel products and liked how this mask was made so I took a chance and bought it. After chasing Hank around the pasture for a while (getting kicked at to boot) I finally got the mask on and cried tears of joy. Not only did it fit but it fit perfectly! No more flys eating Hank’s eyeballs.
As a matter of fact, it fit so well that I got online and searched Cashel for a mini version for Maggie. And I found one on Amazon! I immediately ordered it and then checked the mailbox every day until it arrived. The day it came I proceeded to chase Maggie around the pasture so I could try it on her. Guess what?!?! It also fit perfectly!! More tears of joy! I know you think I’m crazy to be so ecstatic over fly masks but this is a big deal!!
At this point I will likely order a new one for Margarita. I can always keep the Shires mask for a backup but if my luck holds out the Cashel will provide a better fit without having to fuss with the velcro closures. I’ll try the yearling/large pony size and see how it fits…fingers crossed.
Although I have no affiliation with Cashel (hey, maybe they can sponsor me??) I would encourage you to try out their products, especially if you’ve had problems finding fly masks that fit just right.