Blinky is the Lady Gaga of the horse world when it comes to rocking a face mask. His uveitis condition means that it has become essential to protect his eyes as much as possible, which has resulted in us building a selection of masks that seems to be growing. It’s a bit like the rug obsession us equestrians all seem to suffer with and your horse ends up with more coats than you have – Blinky just loves a new pair of raybans!
When Blinky was diagnosed with his first episode of uveitis I purchased the Equivizor Fly Mask. This was recommended as one of the better UV fly masks for uveitis by my vet and worth a try. I like this mask because it has a built in structure across the top of the horses eyes that stops the mask resting on the eyes and also provides a constant shade. We have continued to use this mask as a turnout mask for the past 12 months, however, Blinky does have a habit of breaking the clips – or one of his field mates does! (not mentioning any names Widget!)
Blinky’s first flare of uveitis took quite a while to get on top of so to aid his recovery I decided to get him an Equivizor Recovery Mask. I decided to get a recovery visor as after a bit of research I found that you could ride with these masks and even jump with them on. So I got the tinted version first as we were dealing with atropine drops at various times so this would also give Blinky more protection from the light when his pupil was slightly bigger than it should be until the atropine effects wore off. As time went on I was quite happy riding Blinky in his tinted recovery visor but I felt more comfortable with the idea of jumping in the clear version, so this was the next we added to our collection. Blinky still wears the tinted version when he is feeling sensitive, on really bright days, flat work or hacking. He then wears his clear visor if its very dull weather or if we are jumping. He will jump fine in his tinted mask but we have just had a couple of jumps where the sun was low and it created a shadow in front of the fence, so Blinky’s cautious brain decided to start jumping the shadows as part of the fence. I am very grateful that Blinky is willing to do this for me, however, after being catapulted out the saddle in one such moment I decided the clear mask might be better for everyone involved!
I have to mention here how helpful the team at Equivizor.co.uk are when ordering masks. They are very knowledgeable about their products and were happy to exchange sizes without question. They have also been campaigning hard to get the recovery visors approved for use under British Eventing rules, BE now allow the clear visor to be worn whilst warming up on the flat and I hope BE will expand this rule in the future to allow masks for jumping and when actually competing in the arena or on the XC course.
Due to Blinky’s favourite game of “lets break the clips on my Equivizor Fly Mask“, I started to have a shop around online and have recently purchased a Nags Horse Ranch Eye Protection Shade. These masks offer 90% UV protection and you can choose to have them sheepskin lined or not. Blinky has only worn this in the field once so far but it did stay on which is the reason for looking at an alternative turnout mask, but we will have to give it a few more goes to see how well it works. This mask also offers a firm structure to keep the mask from resting against the eyes. If anything this will at least give him a back up turnout mask for when I am hunting for his others in the field!
Nags Horse Ranch is an american based company so I purchased their product through Urban Horse, who again have offered fantastic service when I needed to change to a smaller size.
I am sure Lady Gaga will agree that any fashionista worth their Jimmy Choos knows that accessorising is a must. Gaga may opt for sequins, sparkles and at one time meat (!) but in Blinky’s world duct tape is a horse’s best friend. Nothing quite says “I am fabulous” like half your face covered in duct tape! Blinky tends to go for silver or black duct tape, he thinks it is more slimming.
Blinky’s next addition to his mask collection will be the eQuick Evysor. This new equine eye protection product will be available from April and I have pre-ordered Blinky a clear version, all versions offer 100% UV protection. Looking forward to trying this one out – watch this space!