Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FAVORITE PRODUCTS: Cashel Crusader Fly Masks

Fly season is upon us, and it seems that the extended cool and wet we've had this Spring is just giving the wee nasties a helping hand. There are A LOT of flies out there, and midges too. I've already had to break out the "pink goo" I use to help my morgan's sweet itch (see the "Ask the Equinist" post for more on that topic), and it soon became apparent to me that I was going to have to bite the bullet and get some more fly masks.

I have not generally been a fan of fly masks, as I have had bad experiences of them causing rubbing around the eyes, and also trapping dirt inside the mask, leading to eye infections. Plus, my horses would rub their faces on trees and such (irritated by the masks, I surmised), tearing holes in the material and letting more dirt and even bugs in. Add to that the fact that I seemed to spend more hours hunting for the dern things after they fell off than the horses spent wearing them, and I pretty much concluded that fly masks were more trouble than they were worth. I tried several brands, to no avail.

Fortunately, sheer desperation drove me to try the Crusader masks made by Cashel, and I think I've finally found a real winner.

Obie and Gryphon model their Cashel Fly Masks
The design of these masks is far superior to any I've seen, holding their shape away from the eyes yet fitting nicely around the face. The material is very sturdy, yet they've managed to keep the masks comfortable by covering all the edges in soft, low-loft material that does not attract dirt and burrs like that cheap, fuzzy stuff you see on some masks. The front of the mask even has a little slit for the forelock to come out of, a huge advantage for a horse like Gryphon, who has tons of forelock and would roast if it was all plastered against his forehead here in the Redding heat. Someone was really thinking of the horse when they went to the drawing board for this product!

The masks I got were the ones with ears, which look a little funny IMO, but definitely help with all those awful bites I was seeing in my gang's ears -- both inside and out. These particular masks have orange ears -- a special edition Cashel has put out with part of the proceeds going to benefit various animal rescue organizations -- yeah, Cashel! I hope more companies are inspired to follow suit with that kind of charity, as our animal friends need all the help they can get these days.

One unexpected benefit of the bright orange ears is that you can find the masks easily if they do come off. Yes, I had ONE come off, and I know why: My bratty little donkey, Rogie, gets really miffed at times when he can't see Gryphon's face, and he will rear and grab and pull for as long as it takes to get the mask off, if the mood so hits him. This is definitely a problem, but I honestly don't think any mask could stay on under an assault like that, and I am surprised at how hard Rogie has to fight to get the Crusader off.

Rogie finally succeeds in pulling Gryphon's mask off!

It's kind of pathetic that my normally extremely dominant horse lets that tiny monster get away with stuff like that, but it's been that way since day one: Gryphon adores Rogie and Rogie can do just about anything he wants to Gryphon, who would KILL another horse for even entertaining the notion of imagining the type of things Rogie does to him every day.

I'm hoping Rogie will get used to the mask idea in time and get bored with pulling it off, but meanwhile, I keep dusting it off and putting it back on. At least Gryphon gets some protected time! As for the other horses, I have yet to see either Obie or Twister get their own masks off or even try, and Obie was always one to rub his off on trees pretty much instantly, so this bodes well.

I hope your crew makes it through fly season unscathed!