H&H Asks: grazing masks

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  • TWO-times national four-in-hand champion Boyd Exell came second at Royal Windsor using what looked like a muzzle on one of his lead horses — what was it?

    BOYD was using the Green Guard grazing mask, a popular muzzle used to restrict grazing. Distributor Shires Equestrian Products says the mask is ideal for keeping off excess weight or reducing laminitis risk, and provides unrestricted breathing.

    Boyd uses the mask on one of his lead horses, Selene, a former stallion, to keep the horse’s mind on the job and to stop him trying to nip his neighbour.

    “Selene is a seven-year-old who was only recently gelded,” explains Boyd.

    “When the team first accelerates at the gallop, he tends to get left about six inches behind, and his stallion tendencies made him very tempted to bite the horse next to him.

    “I wanted to find something that would stop him biting, but didn’t interfere with the driving bridle and reins. I experimented with a leather muzzle, but it was too restrictive, so I tried the Green Guard. It sits about five millimetres off the horse’s mouth, and does not have a restricting effect. I used it this season, and found it very helpful in the spring, when Selene was feeling especially well. He now wears it in every marathon.”

    Why is it different?

    THE mask is said to offer greater freedom than traditional muzzles, as it is comfortable for the horse and still allows unrestricted drinking and breathing. Designed with the help of a vet for effective grazing management, it aims to allow horses to enjoy a natural “little and often” grazing habit and attaches to a special headcollar.

    Where can I get one?

    THE Green Guard mask comes with a one-year guarantee against breakage and is fully adjustable. It is available in two sizes and five colours. It retails at £42.50, while the headcollar is £12 from Shires.

    Tel: 01568 613600 www.shires-equestrian.co.uk

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (9 August, ’07)

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