Oh no, bug season is upon us! Fortunately, this year we have armor to protect our horses from attack: Horseware Ireland's Amigo Bug Buster Fly Sheet.
I had the good fortune of testing this sheet last fly season on my 12-year-old gelding, a critter who is highly sensitive to insect bites. Despite repeated applications of some pretty potent fly sprays, it's been nearly impossible to keep him bite-free during peak bug-biting months. Consider that I live near a reservoir where hatches are virtually non-stop. My poor guy generally sports raised welts over his neck and body throughout much of the spring, summer, and fall. The mosquitoes attack his tail, too, causing him to rub it until it looks like a bottle brush.
Once he started wearing his Bug Buster sheet, the swellings went away and his tail hair began to grow in again. What's more, he was happy to spend more time grazing in the pasture, rather than hiding from pests in the barn.
While you may be tempted to balk at this fly sheet's price (the Amigo Bug Buster retails for between $120-$150 depending on where you purchase it), I believe the engineering is worth it. My gelding wore his sheet nearly round-the-clock-out to pasture, in the corral, and in the barn-almost every day. (But fellow owners, please be sure to take the sheet off daily to groom your horse, check skin health, and watch for potential rub marks.) Diablo's sheet withstood a lot of wear and tear-although the mesh did suffer a few snags.
Construction includes heavy duty Velcro closures and sturdy snaps strategically placed to keep the sheet in place. The neck cover (an important feature) is lined along the crest, as is the central seam along the sheet's back and shoulders, which helps prevent chafing. The belly band and the tail flap are also great additions, keeping the insects from targeting these vulnerable spots.
The Amigo Bug Buster provides protection by acting as a lightweight barrier. Plus, the mesh fabric has been infused with permethrin, an odorless, colorless insect repellent similar to what occurs naturally in chrysanthemums. The repellent is EPA-approved and trademarked as BUZZ BLOCKER Insect Shield™. Horseware Ireland says the repellent should remain effective through 25 washings. While I can't confirm this myself, I do know that over the course of several months, I repeatedly sprayed my gelding's fly sheet with a hose to rinse away the dust. I'd let it dry on the fence, and then put it back on him. The sheet continued to keep the pests away until it was time to pack it up for the season. It will be returning to work now.