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. 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. Jump down to find out more about how to use a grazing muzzle.

    Here’s a selection of the best grazing muzzles on the market…

    Best Friend deluxe grazing muzzle

    Best Friend Deluxe grazing muzzle

    Colours: Black | Sizes: Mini – draft | RRP: £42.95

    This muzzle 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.

    View at charliesproducts.co.uk

    Harry’s Horse Air grazing muzzle

    Harry’s Horse Air grazing muzzle

    Colours: Black | Sizes: XS–XL | RRP: £25

    This grazing muzzle is made from soft webbing with a padded nose and quick-release throat lash.

    More info and stockists at harryshorse.com
    View at horze.co.uk

    Hy grazing muzzle with fleece

    Hy muzzle with fleece

    Colours: Black | Sizes: Extra-small pony – extra-full | RRP: £18.50

    This non-slip nylon muzzle 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.

    More info and stockists at hy-equestrian.com
    View at 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.

    View at viovet.co.uk

    Shires GreenGuard muzzle 

    Shires GreenGuard muzzle 

    Colours: Black | Sizes: Pony – full | RRP: £71.99

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

    More info, stockists and view at shiresequestrian.com
    Also available at naylors.com

    ThinLine Flexible Filly grazing muzzle

    ThinLine Flexible Filly grazing muzzle

    Colours: Black or purple | Sizes: S–L | RRP: £76

    This soft, light muzzle 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.

    More info and view at kmeliteproducts.co.uk
    Also available at amazon.co.uk

    Ultimate grazing muzzle

    Ultimate grazing muzzle

    Colours: Blue | Sizes: Small pony – extra-full | RRP: From £28

    This muzzle is designed to sit higher at the front to prevent removal. It has a leather head strap and is clip-free to avoid your horse getting caught. Fleece covers are available separately.

    More info and stockists at ultimatemuzzle.com
    View at harryhall.com

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    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.

    How should I 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.

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