Tex has been using the same fly mask since last summer. It was easy to get on and comfortable, but it didn't offer much coverage for his nose. Everytime I went out to see him, he had ten or fifteen or 25 flies on his nose.
So, I ordered him a new fly mask. One that was soft with more nose coverage. I even had his name embroidered on it -- because we often can't remember who's mask is who's, especially at the beginning of summer when we bring them out of storage.
Tex was not interested in having the new fly mask anywhere near him, much less on his face. It was big and floppy and it smelled new. Friday morning I worked with him 40 minutes before he decided to let me put it on. I carried it into the pasture so he could see it. I'm always honest with the horses. I don't hide tubes of wormer or halters or fly masks. Horses are always honest; it isn't possible to have the kind of relationship I want with them if I am anything less than that.
I was patient; I didn't get rattled; I talked to him in an even tone of voice. When he turned his back to me, or walked away, I sent him off with a wave of my hand. He let me stand with him quite a few times, stroking his neck and explaining things. I rubbed the fly mask all over his body so it would smell like him. He wasn't sure about that part but he tolerated it. The part he couldn't tolerate was me putting it across his face. I could get the first ear in, but the minute it started coming across his eyes -- he was gone.
In the end, I set the mask down and got the halter. He's braver in a halter. He pulled away a few times, but I was able to stay with him so he didn't leave. I fastened and unfastened the velcro, standing next to him, until he was bored. I put one ear in, and took it back out. Eventually, I was able to put both ears in and fasten the velcro with him standing quietly.
Throughout the whole time I was out in the pasture with him, he never once flinched at my touch. He did snort at the fly mask. But he was A-okay with me.
Saturday was cool and breezy so fly masks were not needed.
Sunday morning I stuffed the top of the fly mask in my back pocket, leaving the bottom to flop when I walked, and slung Tex's halter over my shoulder. Tex knew what I was going to do and he wasn't interested. He wasn't scared; but he wasn't interested. It took 20 minutes of sending him away before he stood quietly for the fly mask.
This morning, I left the halter on the hook and went into the pasture with just his fly mask. He stood still as I approached, said good-morning to me, and accepted the fly mask quietly. I think it took 30 seconds, max, to get it on.