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We recently received 3 fly masks to review from Cashel. To begin with, I like the packaging. The zippered bag is a good way to store your fly mask for the off season (though we don't have much of one here in Arizona).  It is sturdier than just a thin cardboard box like other masks come in, or a thin plastic bag.  The closest thing to it would be the packaging a comforter comes in.  The front of the board in the package has all the information you need and it is VERY clear what size you have.  The back of the board in the bag has a size guide.  This guide is more helpful than some other brands, as it shows how to measure and what size the measurements correlate to.  This is more exact than going by just weight.  I have purchased fly masks in the past, based on weight, but they did not fit any of my horses.

Cashel has put a lot of thought into sizing and while it's not perfect, it's closer than most.

 

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Cashel was kind enough to send over a  Draft size standard Cashel Crusader Fly Mask for our draft horse. This is the basic model with three holes at the poll, two for the ears, and one for the forelock.

 

Also sent to me was a Horse size “Standard WITH ears” fly mask mask for our Thoroughbred.  The basic model builds in  ear covers.  These are very good at keeping midges and other annoying insects from the ears.  Bear in mind that some horses are uncomfortable with this, but with others it is a necessity. It will really depend on your horse and the insects that plague them. This one had a fun pattern on the crown, ears and reinforcing triangle.

The final fly mask I was sent was the Cashel Crusader Long Nose Horse Fly Mask with Ears for a small Quarter horse/Arab/Cob that not only has the ears but a long nose.

The long nose is fantastic for horses with pink noses to help keep them from getting sunburned the delicate skin of the nose.  When a horse has pink skin, especially on the muzzle, genitals and around the eyes, it has a greater chance of squamous cell cancers.  This is just one more reason why it's important to keep your horse in a fly mask mask.  Some horses also prefer the long nose to keep the bugs away from their muzzle.  This fly mask also has the distinctive pink ears and ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness.

My first impression on taking these fly masks out is that they are very well constructed.  The material is much nicer than many other masks, the fleece that lines the external seams is very soft, and the crown piece is much more breathable.  It's like a workout shirt and will likely rub less than having the pvc-type mesh on the crown.  The reinforcing triangle on the nose piece is likely to reduce a usual breaking point.  My draft horse has been ripping out the only other fly mask we found to fit him in the middle front, because there's a seam in the middle and no reinforcement.  Both issues are not present in the Cashel Crusader mask.  The velcro is strong. The pvc-type mesh is sturdy and Cashel's label says it blocks 70% of UV rays.  The Eye Darts are well reinforced, and come down from the top, crown seam.

back of reinforcing triangle

Eye Dart Back of reinforcing triangle

On the Horses

These fly masks were tested on four horses: a 14.2hh  Stock type Appaloosa, a 15.3hh foundation/hunter style appaloosa, a 16.3hh Thoroughbred and 18hh Hitch bred Percheron.

The first one tested was the “Small quarter horse/Arab/Cob fly mask.  The horse accepted both ears and long nose. This horse has a heavy jaw, despite the baby doll head, and the fly mask was hanging on by only an inch or so.   This fly mask provided great coverage down the nose.  It would certainly keep burnt noses to a minimum!  (Now I just need something that's as well accepted to cover that big white butt and keep it from being sunburned!)  The amount of pink on the fly mask is minimal enough that anyone should be fine using it, and it's for a great cause as part of the proceeds go towards breast cancer research – a wonderful way to help horses and people! The second fly mask tested was the “Horse” size.  The zany pattern fit the larger appaloosa's personality well.  This horse is blind due to what we think was uveitis prior to our ownership, which is not uncommon among appaloosas, and I was afraid that the ears wouldn't be well received.  But unlike other masks it did not seem to be an issue.  I have tried ears before and since the horse couldn't hear as well, it was upsetting. The horse was comfortable and calm in the Cashel mask.  Due to the blindness it is important for this horse to have a well fitting mask, and this mask delivered. It fit well, and the soft fleece at the edges as well as the softer athletic type fabric at the crown should do great to eliminate rubs and keep it from being too hot. I also tested this mask on the Thoroughbred, and I admit, I expected there to be issues since the mask has ears and this horse was rescued from the track.  Track horses are often “ear twitched” and tend to be ear shy on the left or “near” side ear.  We've been working on her sensitivity, but with this mask it was not even an issue. This horse, like the larger Appy, was calm and comfortable. The mask fits well now. Time will tell, especially with the heat here in Arizona and daily use, how long the elastic attached to the Velcro will hold up.  Since the standard was almost too big, we tested the Arab/cob/Small Quarter horse with the ears and long nose and it fit very nicely.  So remember that breed and size don't necessarily determine mask size and do your measuring! The final fly mask tested is the “Draft” size.  This standard model fly mask fit nicely in the crown, and was certainly long enough, unfortunately it was too big around the jaw. However, considering we have one of the most difficult horses to fit with fly masks, this is not a problem I expect others to run into. Usually tack does not fit because it is too small, so it is good to see that Cashel takes their sizing seriously. 


This fly mask is likely to hold up well for the beating a draft can easily give it.  I could easily see this mask fitting the horses in the 19 hand range with no problem.  A horse that needs a large draft halter would be comfortable and happy in this fly mask.  My horse takes a standard draft halter (but a 7” mouthpiece on his bit!) and would likely be happy in the Warmblood version based on the size chart on the back of the bag. In all, we recommend the Cashel fly mask and we support you in picking one up for your horse. There are thousands of options on the market, but Cashel’s products are well-constructed, thoughtfully sized, and a great value. Visit Cashel and see their wide selection of Crusader, Quiet-Ride and Patterned fly masks. The patterned masks will enable you to show off you and your horses personality with fly masks as creative and fun as your horse.


All Photos by Katriona

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katriona
Author: katriona
Contributor
About the Author
Katriona Lindstrom has over 20 years of experience with horses, dogs and cats. She is an award winning photographer with a focus on landscape, nature and pets. Visit her at Photos By Katriona

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