Horse Fly Veils & Ear Bonnets

Fly veils for horses, also known as ear bonnets, have grown increasingly popular over the years and although they may look like the icing on the cake of our matchy sets, they actually serve a very serious purpose – protecting a horse’s ears from annoying flies and insects.


What are fly veils for and what do they do?

A head collar consists of a noseband and a headpiece that buckles around the horse’s head. This is an everyday item that allows a horse to be safely led or tied up when needed.

Fly veils are typically worn while riding to stop horses getting distracted by flies and other insects. They are especially effective for sensitive horses whose riders have to deal with excessive head shaking while out hacking or during schooling in the arena.

Usually made from crocheted cotton, fly veils are lightweight and breathable so your horse won’t have to sacrifice comfort for protection, and they are incredibly easy to put on. Fly veils simply slip over your horse’s ears to sit neatly under a bridle. They also come in a multitude of colours that are guaranteed to suit every fashion-conscious equestrian.

Another fantastic benefit of a well-fitting fly veil is that it can help muffle noises, which can be especially helpful for spooky horses in windy conditions or to help relax horses in the adrenalin-charged atmosphere of competitions. Riders whose horses need earplugs (which aren’t permitted at competition level) may further find fly veils useful for keeping those plugs in place.

Are fly veils dressage legal?

While fly veils were once banned from competition arenas, this rule has been relaxed in recent years and they can now be worn in all disciplines. In fact, at the last Olympics the “little hats” worn by competing horses became quite the topic of conversation among non-equestrians!

FEI rules state:

“Ear hoods are permitted for all events and may also provide noise reduction. However, ear hoods must allow for ears to move freely and must not cover the horse’s eyes and ear plugs are not permitted (with the exception of prize giving ceremonies). The ear hoods should be discreet in colour and design. Ear hoods may not be attached to the noseband.”

Clearly, in light of these regulations, some of our more ‘out there’ colours might not meet with FEI approval. But don’t worry, here at Matchy Horsey we’ve done our best to find you some fabulous fly veils in competition white, beautiful black and smart brown.

And for those riders who simply want their horse to look fabulous and protected, we’ve got fly veils that sparkle and shine as well as patterned veils and neon bright bonnets.

While sizing isn’t an exact science with fly veils, the usual standards of pony, cob, full and extra-large apply. However, if you are in any doubt or caught between two sizes always go too big rather than too small.

Machine washable, fly veils should be kept clean for your horse’s comfort and to give maximum protection from summer’s flying pests.

Does my horse need a fly veil?

Your horse will benefit from wearing a fly veil in the summer months as it will help protect his ears from flies and other insects. If you find your horse to be easily spooked or distracted when out on hacks, then a fly veil may also help to muffle the confusing and alarming sounds that may spook your horse.

Alongside the practical uses of keeping the flies out of your horse's ears, ear bonnets can also be found in a huge range of awesome colours and styles to suit every horse.

How do I fit a fly veil?

Fitting a fly veil to your horse is very simple, although keeping the bonnet in place can depend on the sizing and fit of the veil and ofcourse how much your horse flips his head. Fly veils should fit snuggly over the ears and be tucked and secured underneath the bridle.

Some fly veils will also have a length of string attached which can be wound round the throat latch - snug but not tightly to further secure the fit. As a general rule, if your fly veil won't stay in place then it's usually the result of an ill-fitting bridle.

What colour ear bonnet is best for dressage?

The best ear bonnet colours to choose for dressage are black, navy, grey and white - or a combination of those colours, for example a navy blue fly veil with white trim.If in doubt opt for colours and styles that suit your horse rather than the latest equestrian fashion trends.

If you struggle to find an ear bonnet that blends well with your horse, then you can always pick a colour that matches your show jacket or hat.