Imagine the health of your eyes if you never wore sunglasses during beach time, gardening or outside exercise. Imagine your discomfort, even pain, if you were never able to keep insects from landing on your eyelids or laying their eggs in the delicate corners of your eyes! This is what horses experience in Hawaii (and every where else for that matter) when they don’t have the protection of a fly mask!
I have witnessed the horror of seeing horses have to deal with pesky flies as they land on their faces and swarm their eyes. And my barefoot farrier, Teddy, has shared numerous horror stories of massive eye infections in horses he visits around our beautiful island. He calls it “Fly Strike”; open wounds around the eyes that have become grossly infected from the horses scratching. This is a solvable issue!
A fly mask is very simple to place on a horse. The mesh is similar to a screen door, yet softer. It allows the horse to easily see while providing 100% protection from the pesky, and often very harmful, flies, bees and other flying insects. In addition, a fly mask keeps up to 75% of the suns’ harmful rays from the horse’s eyes! Think of the fly mask as a large pair of equine sunglasses! And this greatly reduces the possibility of a variety of eye issues, including cancers and Uveitus, the most common cause of blindness in horses!
Fly masks are usually available for purchase at our local feed and tack stores. They cost around $18.00 to $24.00 and come in a variety of sizes, styles and colors. They can easily last for years, if property cleaned and stored. For some reason, when I have been unable to purchase a replacement mask at Tractor Supply in Hilo, or Waimea Feed in Waimea, I have resorted to making an on-line purchase. This has resulted in the frustration of receiving the “Not able to send to your zip code!” announcement. “Why,?” you might ask? I have no idea!!! But, that doesn’t deter me from purchasing and then sending the mask to a friend or family member on the mainland, and asking them to forward it on to me. Sounds like a pain in the okole, right? Absolutely! But, the alternative is much worse – a cancerous lesion that must be surgically removed, or the horse going blind and losing an eye! Now that is a bullet to definitely dodge…
Unless it’s raining, Palmer always wear’s his fly mask during daylight hours. It is a non-negotiable part of his morning routine. And, I am pretty sure he appreciates the extra care and comfort this simple addition provides. I know that I rest easier because Palmer is comfortable and protected as he grazes the lush green grasses of our Hamakua Coast!