BY JESS CLAWSON
One of the many struggles of horse ownership is keeping our horses comfortable during the fly-riddled summer months without spending all of our time out in the paddocks searching for missing fly masks and fly boots.
Plus, most of the fly masks and boots on the market today don’t fit the aesthetic many of us love for our horses. Let’s face it–we like to have beautiful things for our horses and our barns, and it’s no fun to sacrifice taste for durability.
That’s where Mackey USA comes in to save the day. Meegan Robinette, an amateur dressage rider, wanted to make sure her beloved thoroughbred gelding Maestro had what he needed to stay comfortable in the California summers while looking great at the same time.
“He’s a fashionista,” Robinette joked. “He can pull off patterns.”
Robinette comes from a professional background in women’s apparel and accessories. After college, she worked in retail management and then became a buyer for an upscale department store. She loved the fashion world, and after about several years was recruited into the manufacturing side of the industry.
It was around the time of her career change that she was able to begin pursuing her riding in earnest. She had ridden a bit here and there when she could, but hadn’t had a chance to really explore her love of horses. She was the youngest of four children and taking her to riding lessons was beyond what her parents could manage. “My dad had been a rancher in Nebraska,” she said. “He would have loved it for me, but it was just out of reach.”
Now she has Maestro and feels very fortunate to board somewhere with other adult amateurs. “We’re tromping around the barn until 9pm every night doing our thing,” she said. “It’s wonderful.”
Robinette’s keen eye for aesthetic and quality meant she noticed that her friends and their horses needed better products. “In California, so many horses are getting uveitis and need to wear fly masks,” she said. “I hated the ones with the flattened eye area or the bubbles, they can interfere with the eye.”
From this simple idea for a better fitting, cuter fly mask comes a whole line of products meant to last longer and look nicer. At Mackey USA, you can choose from Bee Mine, Modern Vintage, and Dandy lines, with more to come. With Mackey products, fly masks, fly boots, hay bags, tack organizers, and equestrian backpacks can all coordinate together.
“It’s an edited collection,” Robinette explained. “You can coordinate across all the lines and it will look nice.”
Robinette tested her designs extensively before she began selling them, and responds to consumer input. “When people asked me for a slow feeder hay bag, I tested mine for a year to see where it wore out, and I put extra padding in those areas,” she explained.
Her fly boots solve a big problem for many horse owners–how to keep the flies off a horse’s legs in a comfortable fly boot that won’t sag and without putting brushing boots on the horse for turnout. “Brushing boots get hot and dirty,” she said. “I like to be able to take the fly boot off, spray it down, and put it back on.”
She noticed after using the fly boots that Maestro’s legs weren’t getting stocked up or developing the cannon crud that’s so hard to avoid in the summer months. She even added a spine to the back of the boots so they would stay in place and keep him comfortable. The velcro on the boots and masks is very heavy duty so the horses can’t pull it off. “I did not want to cut any corners on quality,” Robinette said.
The equestrian backpacks are one of the many quality and affordable innovations she carries. “I loaned one to my dressage trainer to wear test and she didn’t want to give it back,” Robinette laughed. The backpacks are water repellent and stain resistant so they’ll look great for a long time. It has compartments for a helmet, whip, water bottle, and cell phone, as well as secret pockets and pockets for damp rags. They can even carry tall boots, and the back is padded so it’s comfortable to wear. Best of all, the backpacks retail for $108–much less than similar products that aren’t as stylish, and there’s room on the back for an embroidered logo or monograms so riders can personalize them or coordinate with their teams.
The grooming totes, too, are designed with rider convenience in mind. They have a shoulder strap so they’re easy to take to the wash stall and are made of a PVC coated mesh for easy clean up. Plus, they coordinate with the hanging tack organizers for a streamlined look.
Mackey USA benefits from Robinette’s experience in accessory manufacturing and her dedication to detail. From the improved fit of products for horses to the functionality of rider gear, we can all look chic and elegant at the barn and by the show ring.
About the Author: Jess is a professional historian and educator who lives in northwestern Virginia. They completed their undergraduate degree in English at William & Mary, and did their masters and doctoral work at the University of Florida. Jess is an event rider with a passion for thoroughbreds, and has extensive experience in community organizing around queer identities, racial marginalization, and labor.
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