Grazing muzzles – what are your options?

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  • Grazing muzzles can be a highly beneficial tool in the fight to against equine obesity and laminitis. They can be worn by all horses, not just the chunkier native pony breeds. If used correctly, they can successfully reduce your horse’s grazing intake.

    There are a variety of grazing muzzle styles available. Some muzzles are attached directly to a headcollar, while others are all-inclusive and come as one piece. If you know what you’re looking for, jump down to our selection of the best grazing muzzles available right now. If not, keep reading to learn more…

    Why do horses wear grazing muzzles?

    Grazing muzzles are used to restrict grass intake, while allowing your horse to benefit from turnout. They are usually used in conjunction with other measures, such as strip grazing, as part of a weight loss or maintenance plan to protect against equine obesity and other associated problems, such as laminitis. They do not prevent a horse from eating.

    How long should a horse wear a grazing muzzle?

    Grazing muzzles should not be left on 24/7. It’s not recommended that they’re worn for more than 10–12 hours each day, but it’s important to remember that during muzzle-free hours your horse’s grazing or access to forage should be restricted to avoid compensatory eating undoing your hard work.

    Do grazing muzzles work?

    Research studies have found that grazing muzzles can reduce grass intake significantly – one study found an 83% reduction over a three hour period. Another that looked at muzzle use over 10 hours, combined with 14 hours of un-muzzled turnout, and found that weight gain was reduced over a three-week period in most ponies.

    Other scientists in Minnesota studied four horses grazing in four separate paddocks, each planted with a single grass species. The study, published in 2014, found there was no difference in the quantities of each grass species that the horses could consume through the muzzle. Wearing the muzzle reduced the horses’ dry matter intake by an average of about 30%.

    How to introduce a grazing muzzle

    It’s important to introduce a grazing muzzle slowly and to make it a positive experience for your horse. How long it takes for your horse to be accustomed to it will depend on his temperament and prior handling experience.

    The National Equine Welfare Council recommends the following steps…

    1. Begin by training your horse to accept the muzzle near his face and then around his nose. Reward relaxed and calm behaviour.
    2. When your horse is accepting, do the muzzle up, leave it on for a few moments and provide a low-calorie treat reward through the muzzle.
    3. Increase the amount of time your horse is wearing the muzzle from seconds to minutes. Graze your horse in-hand to encourage him to try eating with the muzzle on.
    4. Increase the supervised time that your horse wears the muzzle before turning him out with it on. Make sure he is grazing comfortably and is able to drink easily.

    Tips for successfully using a grazing muzzle

    • Take time to introduce your horse to the muzzle
    • Ensure you’ve fitted the muzzle correctly – most come with fitting advice
    • Fence off any potential hazards where the muzzle could become caught
    • Monitor your horse’s weight weekly and conduct a body condition score assessment at least every 2–4 weeks
    • Check for rubbing daily – common areas include on the poll, behind the ears, top of the muzzle, lips, cheek bones and under the chin
    • Ensure your horse’s grazing is restricted when he is not wearing the muzzle to avoid compensatory eating. Common options include stabling or putting him in a bare paddock with soaked hay during this time
    • Check that your horse can manage to eat the grass in his field – grazing that is too long or too short an be difficult to eat through a muzzle

    How do you keep a grazing muzzle on?

    Firstly, make sure your muzzle is fitted correctly. Too tight and your horse may experience discomfort and put more effort into getting it off, but too loose and it’ll be easy to get off. Some owners swear by plaiting the forelock around the headpiece to hold it on, while others loop it through the ears holes of a fly rug. Some horses are particularly efficient muzzle removers, so it might take a bit of trial and error but perseverance is key.

    Best grazing muzzles: what are your options?

    Shires GreenGuard muzzle

    Shires GreenGuard Muzzle

    Colours: Black
    Sizes: Pony – full
    RRP: £74.99

    This lightweight basket-style muzzle from Shires is durable and UV resistant. It should be attached to a GreenGuard headcollar (available separately), which has an additional front strap to hold the front in place, or your normal headcollar, with four adjustable straps.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uknaylors.com, gsequestrian.co.uk or ebay.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    ThinLine Flexible Filly grazing muzzle

    ThinLine Flexible Filly Grazing Muzzle

    Colours: Black or purple
    Sizes: S–L
    RRP: £88

    This soft, light muzzle from KM Elite attaches to your horse’s normal headcollar. It is constructed of a durable and pliable mould-resistant material that is soft on the teeth and lips. It has UV protection and an adjustable grazing hole size.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or gsequestrian.co.uk

    Shires Comfort Grazing Muzzle

    Shires Comfort Grazing Muzzle

    Colours: Black
    Sizes: Small pony – extra-full
    RRP: £23.99

    This muzzle is cut back under the chin to avoid unnecessary pressure and improve the fit. The muzzlehas a rubber base, reinforced nylon web bars and anti-chafe padding around inside of the muzzle that protects the delicate nose and chin. The fully adjustable headcollar also benefits from anti-chafe padding and is fitted with a field-safe fastening, while a D-ring allows a lead rope to be attached.

    The Deluxe version is lined with synthetic wool, which helps protect against chafing and improves airflow around the delicate nose area.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk or gsequestrian.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    Shires Flexi Grazer Muzzle

    Shires Flexi Grazer Muzzle

    Colours: Black
    Sizes: Small pony – extra-full
    RRP: £23.99

    This muzzle is well ventilated, durable and washable. The fully adjustable padded harness is ergonomically shaped and has field-safe fastenings to provide a secure fit. It also includes a lower D-ring for attaching a lead rope.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk, naylors.com or gsequestrian.co.uk

    Hy grazing muzzle with fleece

    Hy Muzzle With Fleece

    Colours: Black
    Sizes: Extra-small pony – extra-full
    RRP: £20.99

    This non-slip nylon muzzle from Hy has additional fleece padding on the inside to prevent rubbing. It features a rubber base, a double hook and loop fastener on the headpiece, a clip throat lash and a leadrope ring. Also available without fleece.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or viovet.co.uk

    Roma grazing muzzle

    Roma Grazing Muzzle

    Colours: Black or purple
    Sizes: Pony – full
    RRP: £23.99

    Made from a durable nylon webbing, this muzzle features padding around the nose for comfort, adjustable straps and a quick-release clip on the throat lash.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk or gsequestrian.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

    Best Friend deluxe grazing muzzle

    Best Friend Deluxe Grazing Muzzle

    Colours: Black
    Sizes: Mini – draft
    RRP: £43.95

    This muzzle by Best Friend has a built-in breakaway headcollar with five adjustment points. It has a padded noseband and is totally synthetic, so resistant to rot and mildew.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk or ebay.co.uk
    In the US? View now at amazon.com

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