This pandemic is no joke, and if we are going to continue horse shows, we are going to have to wear face coverings. There are many different styles and designs of masks on the market since I often wear my glasses around the barn, but contacts to ride and show. (Don’t ask, I’m not sure why I switched my contacts to horse show in.) I have struggled to find a face covering that I find both comfortable, effective, and convenient. Over the last 12 months, I have been on a quest of sorts to find the perfect face covering. In doing so I have amassed about a dozen masks in varying styles and designs. I thought I would share my thoughts on what works for me and what doesn’t. Please note, all the masks reviewed here are NOT medical-grade masks, however, they do satisfy the face-covering rule put in place at horse shows by USEF.
I tried the Hannah Perforated mask. The fabric is soft perforated stretchy jersey material with cotton piping. I first noticed the Callidae Hannah style at Tryon International Equestrian Center in the fall of 2020, when several of the ‘Indoor’ shows were moved to the TIEC venue. It was very popular with the Equitation Finals and USEF Talent Search Finals competitors and their accompanying trainers. This is a closed neck pullover-style face covering with a ‘v’ front that lays neatly inside your show coat when you are riding and is easily pulled up over the face when off the horse. It comes in a variety of solid colors with contrasting pipings. This face covering comes in 3 different fabrics, cotton, tech, and tech mesh.
The fabric is a single layer of perforated jersey material that is stretchy but also very fitted. Although perforated, the resistance of the fabric is such that it does not appear perforated while being worn. This is a popover your head one-piece enclosed style that will go on and off over your helmet. It was very comfortable around my neck, the fabric was lightweight and when worn over my nose and mouth my glasses were fog-free. However, I found this style to be very constricting across the front of my face no matter how I adjusted it. Instead of draping across my face like other styles, this design stretches across the front of the face. The way it stretched across my nose and mouth was not particularly attractive. I reached out to the company via DM on their Instagram to see if the other 2 styles they make offered a different fit. They are a bit pricey at $30 but washable and reusable.
I was tempted to purchase one in a different fabric to see if the fit was different but with their no return policy, which I understand, I opted to message them and ask about the fit before purchasing another mask from them. At this time I have not heard back from the company. It is functional and fashionable but it lacks in the comfort department. (Look out for an update on this review once I hear from Callidea about the fit of the masks in their other fabrics)
The Shady Lady is a wrap-around snap closure face covering. Designed with a proprietary fabric exclusive to Shady Lady products. The fabric is infused with a plant-based oil that provides built-in UPF 50, blocks 98% of UVA / UVB rays from the sun. The fabric is soft, stretchy, breathable, anti-microbial, fade-resistant as well as several other benefits. It is available in several colors. I purchased “stone” which is a shade of grey, white is just too hard to keep clean around the barn.
The Shady Lady Sun Scarf was originally designed to offer sun protection to the rider’s neck and chest, however, the product is quickly gaining in popularity as a face covering as well. I like the snap-on / snap-off functionality of this piece as a face covering. The stretchy fabric and snap closure also make it easy to wear this face-covering in a variety of different ways.
You can snap it through, above or below your ponytail, you can also weave it through the harness of your helmet if you need to hop off and walk a course. It washes up well and I didn’t experience any fogging with my glasses. Any mask that avoids the fog in my opinion is a go-to product!
Surgical: The classic I forgot my mask and had to grab one from the entry point of the show grounds. These are comfy enough and do the job, however, the fogging of the glasses when trying to pick out a stall or dump a wheelbarrow is ridiculous.
Equifit was one of the first equestrian companies to stop products of traditional equestrian products and switch over to mask making when the pandemic was raging last spring. This classic black style offers hook and loop closure at the back, with wide padded foam double wire nose pieces. The Equifit AgSilver Facewrap is made from 2 layers of lightweight, breathable, recycled woven mesh. The mesh fabric is infused with AgSilver which is known to inhibit bacterial growth, and if that isn’t enough, the fabric offers sun protection with a UPF 50+ rating that blocks 99% of UVA/UVB rays. The label recommends hand wash or delicate cycle machine wash.
I like the wrap-around style with the back closure and the slightly tapered rounded front of this mask, plus it is super lightweight and breathable. Which means that my glasses won’t fog up that easily. I also really like the fact that this mask can be used while wearing a helmet and can easily be taken on or off without having to completely redo your helmet every time. The extra-long hook and loop closure makes this style very adjustable to a variety of head shapes. I like this one for a neck kerchief style, it has everything, fit, functionality, and comfort.
Z- Shield Face Shield:
This device attaches around your neck from the bottom with a flexible plastic collar type device that stands up and holds a clear plastic screen close to your face. My glasses never fog up in this but they are not attractive or functional to wear around the barn. It’s big and bulky and if you turn your head the collar and screen do not cover the extreme ranges of motion to the left or right offering some questions to me about effectiveness.
I like the ease of use, but it’s so bulky to lug around, difficult to store and if your horse sneezes on you, it will be covered in horse snot spots all over the screen. Off you go to find a hose and a clean barn towel to dry it off. It is easily adjusted to be close to your face or folds down and out of the way. Honestly, this style is going to be subject to personal preference for a lot of people I think. I find myself using it to shop in stores, but otherwise, it’s just not convenient around the barn.
Bandana: Two thumbs up if you can rock one of these, but it’s a no-go for me. These are just not comfortable in my opinion, I can never get it to stay up, it’s always sliding down, the fog factor is a huge issue for me with this style. In a pinch, yeah it’s a face covering but, it does nothing for functionality, fit, or comfort.
These neck gaiters from Modern Mare Goods are a simple pull-over-the-head style and are available in a variety of prints and solids. I have found this brand to be super comfortable with fun sassy prints. The fog factor on my glasses still exists but they are just so easy to use.
This mask is made from layers of cotton woven with anti-microbial silver, recycled fabric, and air mesh. The Equifit SportMask is super lightweight and breathable. The hook and loop closure at the back of the neck allows for easy on/off as you transition to and from the show ring.
This mask is one of my favorites so far. It has been ergonomically designed for the equestrian. The rear strap closes at the base of the skull and the front is tailored to the mouth and nose for maximum coverage while being minimally invasive. It is comfortable around the face when worn, and highly breathable. My glasses give this mask 2 lenses up, no fogging up with these. The mask stays in place, it’s easy to breathe in, has a pocket for a filter if you so desire, a foam-padded nose piece with sturdy wire for shaping. I like this one a lot.
Essex Classics custom-made reusable face masks have an adjustable wire nose bridge and are fitted by slipping over the ears with elastic straps that adjust with small pegs on the elastic. The Essex Classics Face mask is a double-layered printed broadcloth outer shell with an inner anti-viral finished broadcloth liner. The outer layer is paired with fun prints often found as contrast trim linings on Essex Classics show shirts. The interior lining of the mask offers an in-between filtration pocket and the mask comes with 2 disposable nano-filters. Machine washable and sized for all ages.
We are all about these super cute face masks! There’s a fun print to match every mood and personality! Although the fog factor is an issue for me, these are still among my favorites and I always keep one in my trunk.
If I've missed a style you'd like to know more about, don't hesitate to reach out and we will try to work it into this article. Stay safe, have fun & I will see you at the horse shows this year!
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