Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four Ears! Four Ears!

Poor Nick, the heartbreak of fly mask failure. Can't decide if he looks more like a Unicorn from some twisted underground world or a weird species of Rhinoceros.

FMF( fly mask failure) is somewhat common to the pastures of of the Southern Cascade-Siskiyou Mountains, usually affecting younger horses, who feel the overwhelming need to tear the masks off their paddock mates or use a tree or another horses body to rub their own mask off.

It's easily identified as previously masked horses will appear with either one ear out, both ears out or no mask at all.

When the loss of one or more ear protection (but not full face mask removal) occurs the victim will approach, head low with a sheepish posture, for readjustment.

In the case of a missing mask, the paddock must scoured* to find the errant face and ear protection and reapplied as many times as necessary during the day. The victim does not display any remorse when the mask is lost, but it can be embarrassing for a victim with a partial failure.

Said victim will try to convince you it has been an Immaculate Removal. Don't be fooled, there are no reported incidents of fly masks in good working order just falling off.

The means of removal is usually easily discovered. Rips around the nose area and of the Velcro fasteners mean removal has been by a pasture "buddy". Pine pitch means a tree was involved. In either event the usefulness of the mask may be compromised. A fly mask is a terrible thing to waste.

* Missing Fly masks are usually found in any depression, often in one deep enough to not see with a horizon scanning. Other common places for the fly mask to be discovered are: under a pile of poop, hidden in brushy areas, stuck to a tree, either above or below eye level, in a water tank and in one reported incident, velcroed to a buddies tail. Depending on condition and circumstances of discovery, the fly mask may be immediately reapplied, sewn and/or washed and reapplied or in the case of pine pitch, disposed of and another procured at fair market value.


  1. Theresa, you have the most hilarious blog ever. Especially since I just this past year first rode a horse for real and saw some of these tricky horse behaviors in person.

    And I like the weaving content too.


  2. I was confused at first - rackless moose?? Isn't this time of year miserable for those pesky pets?! I hang fly strips but inevitability one of my dogs manages to get it attached to a point of their anatomy. Eddie snagged two yesterday. They work great, but not on dogs.

  3. Alice,
    Congrats to you for taking on the challenge of horseback riding. A horse is a pretty smart critter in some ways, and they always know when they have a beginner on their back. I try to think of those behaviors as opportunistic rather than tricky! ;-)
    Hope it was enough fun to do it again.

    Cindie, Glad we could have started your day off on a happy foot! I had a good laugh when I spied Nick myself. I'm sure that and the camera only added to his embarrassment.

    Sharon, a rackless moose! Excellent visual. Why didn't I think of that. Yes, late summer and the flies are plentiful. Between fly predators and those water trap bags we try to keep their numbers down, but Aug and early Sept are the worst.

  4. We have those little eye gnat kind of bugs around here right now. So I practically want a fly mask for humans when I go for a walk. (I guess some humans do use those screen hat things.)

    I love that horses have so much personality.

    Bailey loves that dogs don't have to wear fly masks!!


    PS: Hope your painting went well - and is done?

  5. Theresa when do you have time to weave? These horses (along with many other of your furry friends) have you wrapped around their hooves and paws. They all have a master plan - first the skunk distracts you while the horses remove their batman masks and dispose of them. The dogs are on the look out for you and warn the horses if you are approaching.

  6. *lol. But is FMF contagious!

  7. Sue,
    The gnats are fearsome in the northeast, I remember that! We get little biting black flies late spring and again, in mid sept, but they don't last long and the ear protection on the masks works well. I am happy dogs don't need fly masks too I would be dressing animals all day long. Painting is done!
    Jennifer, :-)
    Leigh, sorry on your computer woes but good to see you have visited! Yes, yes, FMF is contagious! How true.
    You asked about the fabric. It's got nice drape but is rather course and scratchy. And they do make goat proof gates, one that went down to the ground would work but with our snow fall we need a gate that is high enough to clear about two feet of snow. One high enough to allow goats to move in and out without catching their backs would also allow for a smart horse to crawl under. I'm not sure any of my guys are into figuring that out...yes, Boo is and if one does it, the others will follow. The grass is always greener on the other side.

  8. Oh, and I forgot to add - the goats are the masterminds of all the escapades that occur there!

  9. Dawn,
    I have no clue how I manage to weave, but I do!
    I never considered the possibility that the dogs were relaying info to the horses about my comings and goings though! I'll have to keep an eye on all of them. ;-)