Explain to me: fly bonnets?

We are finally entering serious bug season here in Vermont. (Though, it has been getting into the low 40s and high 30s at night, so maybe that will ease off again.)

Once upon a time, Tristan wore a fly bonnet for every outdoor ride. See, when bugs land on his face, he loses his little mind. He flings his head in every possible direction. He snorts. He prances. He shakes and shakes and shakes.

He is remarkably tolerant of me using a dressage whip to flick them off, so that’s often what I do, along with riding when the bugs are less, or inside, or just sucking it up.

(I just looked and looked and can’t find a photo of Tris in his fly bonnet, so you will have to take my word for this.)

Here’s the problem though: the fly bonnet does not stay on his head. No matter how I snug it under his bridle, no matter how I wrap the string around the straps of the bridle, no matter how much I reach forward and tug it back into place while we’re riding, it does.not.stay.put.

Relatively quickly into every ride with it, he gives a really good long shake, and it flies off, usually falling forward over his eyes. Thankfully, he doesn’t care all that much, but it’s next to impossible to get back into place from the saddle, and then it’s even more dislodged, and stays an even shorter period of time, etc.

It’s a cheap basic fly bonnet that I probably bought at Dover Saddlery at least 10 years ago, before they were all cool. White, with cotton fabric ears and crocheted cotton headpiece. It has tassels that used to be longer before someone trimmed them, something about they were hanging in his eyes and looked terrible. 😛

This one, in white.

What am I doing wrong? Is Tristan just not meant to be one of the cool kids who can accessorize with a fly bonnet? Is it a fit problem?

8 thoughts on “Explain to me: fly bonnets?

  1. I think it depends on the bonnet and the fit. I bought a cheap cotton one from… don't know where, with tassels, and the string to secure it and that thing would slide off frequently enough that I stopped using it. I just bought a USG one from SmartPak – it has lycra ears, no tassels, and no string – and it has stayed put, no prob. Did a hunter pace, trail rides, hacking out, etc, and have had great success with it.

    I think Tristan is cool w/o the fly bonnet but I bet he'd love one!


  2. I cannot help you here, as neither of my horses seems bothered enough by bugs to warrant a bonnet. That doesn't mean I didn't have that same Dover bonnet in hunter green about 15 years ago, though lolz.

    I've heard good things about the fit of the USG bonnets- that's pretty much all we sell at work.


  3. The only time I've had a problem with mine staying on is with my sidepull, because the bridle is so loose on the head. With a bit on, everything is held a lot closer. But it does help when they fit well (if it's too big and floppy it'll never stay put), have spandex ears, and are a tight enough weave to have some weight to it. But if you really can't get anything to work, you can add little velcro tabs to the top so that it velcros around your crownpiece. Or buy the PS of Sweden bonnets, which have those already on them. 😉


  4. i desperately want to dress my mare up in fly bonnets (and can more or less justify it bc we have horrific blood sucking pests in the woods that drive her nuts)… but i can never find anything that fits her, and the one i HAVE tried don't stay put bc she eventually shakes them off a la T Swift


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