Does my horse need a grazing muzzle?
Maybe. First you need to figure out why your horse may need one, and then you can decide.
Grazing muzzles are designed to limit the amount of pasture grass that your horse can eat. The ventilated bucket design that goes over your horse’s muzzle only allows the tips of the grass in for your horse to eat. Grazing muzzles also limit the size of the bite, so there’s less grass with every munch.
Horses that are metabolically challenged, such as horses with insulin resistance or cushing’s disease, need limited pasture access. A horse that has has laminitis in the past also needs limited pasture. Of course there’s also the overweight horse. Yes, yes, yes, using a grazing muzzle while your horse munches away on his most favorite meal EVER seems like horrible torture! But, the alternative is a myriad of metabolic problems, possible laminitis, and all of the problems that come with having an overweight horse. Overweight horses can develop joint, hoof and limb problems from carrying around all of that extra weight. Their heart and lungs can be stressed as well, and their ability to regulate their body temperature is compromised. This is particularly critical in the summer when they need to cool themselves. So when your “easy keeper” gives you those starving stares, it’s time for some tough love. For help in determining if your horse if too pudgy, you can read up on it here, from our friends over at Summit Equine Nutrition!
You may need to modify your horse's grazing muzzle - the nose can often get rubbed from the halter. This padding was made from an old leg wrap.
You can ID muzzles with tape, and you can also make the nose holes bigger for better ventilation.
You may consider only turning your horse out for a short amount of time to limit his intake of grass, but some recent research has discovered that horses will gorge themselves. It’s sometimes better for extended turnouts on pasture grass with a grazing muzzle than a short time without a grazing muzzle. Besides, it’s just more walking around time, which is great for everyone!
When you are shopping for a grazing muzzle, find one that either has a breakaway strap or one that you can attach to a leather halter. Anytime your horse wears a halter there’s the possibility that he will get it hooked on something and freak out. His halter and his grazing muzzle must be breakaway!
You will also need to make sure he can figure out how to drink while wearing it. He may seem a bit clunky, so access to a water source larger than a bucket may be in order here. You will also want to supervise him while he figures out how to eat while wearing it. I’ve known more than one clever horse that could undress himself of anything that we put on him! Also watch out for other horses if he’s turned out in a herd, this is especially true if he’s a bit lower on the totem pole.
You will also want to watch out for sores, rub, hairless patches and the like. Sometimes the top of the muzzle will rub across your horse’s face. You could add some fleece or padding, or use an ointment to create a slippery surface.
Does your horse wear a grazing muzzle?