Lindsey Kahn pits Cashel’s Crusader Fly Mask against the bugs.
Ahh, summer. The long, hot days offer me a bounty of opportunities to increase my equestrian tan while working and riding at the barn. My horses are sleek and well-fed, their attitudes oozing the kind of easygoing laziness you might pair with a frosty margarita on a beach. The bright blue sky swells with the ominous drone of biting flies and mosquitoes…
Yep, that’s a Minnesota summer. The Land of Ten Thousand Lakes is also known as the Land of Ten Billion Mosquitoes, and it looks like they’ve invited their biting fly buddies to the feast. Awesome. My normally-lazy gelding practically implodes when the bugs start swarming him, and it looks a little something like this:
Several of my friends use and love the Cashel Crusader Standard Fly Mask with Ears, so I eagerly gave it a try. I’ve had great luck using their other products (you can read my review of the Cashel E-Z Knees on Horse Nation), and it was no surprise that this brand has one of the most popular lines of fly masks out there.
The Crusader Fly Mask’s design leaves no stone unturned. The mesh is durable yet forgiving, with a shape that keeps the mask from rubbing against the horse’s sensitive eye area. This mesh blocks 70% of the sun’s damaging UV rays. The ear sleeves and forehead area are made with luxuriously soft micro-mesh nylon for comfort and breathability. The edges of the mask are hemmed with a soft fabric to protect your horse’s face.
My favorite feature is Cashel’s patented forelock hole. It keeps the horse’s hair from getting plastered to their face, and it is reinforced in the back for extra comfort and durability.
The Crusader Fly Mask was so pretty when it was fresh out of the package, I was reluctant to test its true powers by turning my horse out with it. First, I knew that my gelding’s buddies would think it was a fun new toy, and I was afraid that the fly mask would quickly meet its demise. Instead, I took it for a test ride (literally), and placed it over my gelding’s bridle using the fly mask’s sturdy double-Velcro strap.
Not only did the fly mask’s soft ear sleeves help protect Griffin’s sensitive ears from the bugs during our ride, it also made for a more pleasant ride in general because it helped reduce his head shaking. We were riding outside in the full sun so I wasn’t too worried about the gray mesh obscuring his vision, however Cashel also offers a Quiet Ride Fly Mask which is designed specifically to be worn over the bridle with a more sheer mesh.
Our ride over, it was time to put the Crusader Fly Mask to the pasture test. But first, a photo op with my less-than enthused pony:
After a few days of donning the fly mask in a herd full of notoriously mouthy geldings, Griffin emerged victorious. The fly mask seemed to have done the trick, keeping his face fly-free while also remaining comfortably in place. Any mud spots are easily removed with a quick hose-down, but the fly mask is also machine washable for those extra-tough crusts and stains.
I was pleased with the quality and design of the Cashel Crusader Fly Mask with Ears, and will be buying a smaller size to put on my mare. Cashel’s website offers a handy fly mask fitting guide, so I’ll know exactly what size to get her. The Crusader Fly Mask also comes in a model without ears, however the lightweight and breathable protection of the fly mask with ears makes it the logical choice for my horses living in Mosquito Central.
Cashel’s fly masks come in several colors – gray, gray with orange accents, and gray with blue accents. Not only does this give you some fun color choices, but a portion of proceeds from the colorful fly masks go to special causes. Cashel gives 5% of the proceeds from the orange-trimmed fly masks to help animal rescues, and proceeds from the blue-trimmed fly masks are donated to the Wounded Warrior Project in order to help injured or ill veterans and service members.
The Crusader Fly Masks and other innovative products can be found at any of Cashel’s dealers.